In a drunken stupor, he refused to pay for a taxi ride, rained punches on the driver, and swung him against a wall, causing a deep gash on his forehead that left permanent scars.
Sentencing Hu Hanxiong to three months’ jail for one count of causing grievous hurt by a rash act that endangers human life, District Judge Low Wee Ping said on Wednesday (Feb 1) that he was “appalled” by the incident and the extent of injuries suffered by the victim, 47-year-old cabby Lee Yew Chye.
“If the prosecution had asked for (a) more (extensive jail term), I would have done so,” said the judge, adding that the “starting point” for offences of this nature is 12 months’ imprisonment.
The prosecution said it had sought the shorter sentence after considering that Hu had made full restitution — S$9,100 covering Mr Lee’s medical expenses and loss of earnings during his 35 days of medical leave — and spent six weeks in remand prior to being sentenced.
The court heard that Hu, 31, boarded Mr Lee’s taxi outside the Esplanade with his friend Mr Tay Wee Seng after a birthday celebration — where both had alcoholic drinks — on May 24, 2015, at about 4.20am.
Throughout their ride to Mr Tay’s house in Jurong West, Mr Tay vomited several times into plastic bags.
During the ride, Mr Lee called to inform a colleague that he “may have trouble with two drunk passengers”.
Upon reaching Mr Tay’s place, Hu refused to pay the taxi fare of S$41.25 and insisted that he had to bring Mr Tay to his flat. A dispute broke out between Hu and Mr Lee.
Mr Lee’s colleague arrived around this time and called the police.
Mr Lee tried to prevent Hu and Mr Tay from making their way upstairs by standing between the lift doors, refusing to budge when Hu shouted.
Hu then shoved Mr Lee out of the lift and punched his face repeatedly. During the scuffle, Hu also held Mr Lee in a neck-lock and swung him against a wall.
Mr Lee's head bled and he fell into a daze. He was able not able to see clearly, the court was told.
The police arrived shortly after and Mr Lee was sent to the hospital. A medical report stated that he suffered a deep 15cm wound at the right side of his forehead extending to his skull. He also experienced persistent vomiting, headaches and giddiness.
In mitigation, Hu’s lawyer Faizal Shah said the night of the incident was the first death anniversary of Hu’s brother-in-law, someone he was “extremely close” to.
“(The date) would have substantially contributed to (Hu’s) state of mind during the commission of the offence,” said Mr Faizal.
The district judge retorted this argument: “Yes, you can drink, but no court would ever accept (drinking) that resulted in violence as a mitigating factor. It is an aggravating factor.”
Hu could have been jailed up to four years and/or fined up to S$10,000 for acting rashly to endanger human life.