Road rage at Tanjong Katong: Biker smashes driver's window with fist
The incident lasted less than a minute.
But it left a woman passenger in a car scared, screaming and fearing for her fiance's life.
Briton James George Palin confronted, abused and then smashed the couple's car window on Tanjong Katong Road on Nov 16 last year.
Yesterday, the State Courts heard that the 33-year-old Briton punched and shattered the window of a Volkswagen, while the driver, Mr Chiang Pak Chien and his then fiancee, Ms Tan Hsu Phen, sat stunned in the car.
Footage from the attack was captured on Mr Chiang's in-car camera system and shown in court yesterday.
By the end of the hour-long hearing, Palin - formerly the regional director of a recruitment company - pleaded guilty and was jailed three weeks for causing hurt by a rash act.
On the day of the incident, the victims, both legal counsels, were travelling on the right lane of the two-lane Tanjong Katong Road at 9.40am.
Palin and a woman pillion rider were travelling on the right of Mr Chiang's car.
Palin overtook the car and his motorcycle knocked its front right bumper.
Mr Chiang, 43, did not react to the collision, continued driving and overtook the motorcycle.
The driver then heard "two loud thuds" on the front right window, which he believed was Palin banging on the car to get his attention.
Palin then overtook Mr Chiang's car again and stopped suddenly in the middle of the busy road.
Mr Chiang had to apply the emergency brake to avoid a collision.
Before both the driver and his passenger could recover from the shock, Palin walked over to the car and shouted: "What the **** are you doing?"
The couple was too shocked to respond.
Palin then slammed his gloved fist into Mr Chiang's side window.
The blow shattered the window. Bits of glass fell on the couple, cutting them.
Ms Tan, 42, screamed and Palin and his unidentified pillion rider then got on his bike and rode off.
The victims, who have since married, suffered superficial cuts to their body, face, neck, arms and legs.
Doctors gave them a week's medical leave.
But the effect on Ms Tan could be more damaging, the court heard yesterday.
Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) Koh Huimin said that since the incident, Ms Tan has suffered "frequent flashbacks, and intrusive involuntary and distressing memories of the event".
Ms Tan has had nightmares, insomnia and has been diagnosed with acute stress disorder.
This means she gets anxious whenever she sees "aggressive-looking" motorcyclists or when motorcyclists get too close to her car or cut into her lane, APP Koh said.
She also pressed for a custodial sentence of three weeks as Palin "had aggressively forced" the victims to a stop and confronted them.
Furthermore, he showed no remorse because he simply rode away after causing hurt to the victims.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim agreed with the prosecution and sentenced him to jail because his reaction to the encounter was both "excessive" and "totally disproportionate".
Palin, who is between jobs, could have been jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to $5,000 for the offence.
He is appealing against the sentence and is now out on $15,000 bail.
'He did not expect window to break'
James George Palin claimed he was "dangerously squeezed" between the victim's car and the road divider.
And at that time, Palin "gently knocked on the window" of Mr Chiang Pak Chien's car to get his attention, defence lawyer Shashi Nathan told the State Courts in mitigation yesterday.
Mr Nathan said Palin also felt "extremely resentful" that Mr Chiang appeared to be "unapologetic and seemed to show no regard for the safety of motorcyclists".
Palin then rode in front of Mr Chiang's car along Tanjong Katong Road on Nov 16 last year, stopped and alighted from his bike.
He then went to Mr Chiang's side window to talk, said the lawyer.
After both vehicles stopped, "Mr Palin intended to hit the window to get the driver's attention".
"He did not expect the window to break," said Mr Nathan.
He also urged the court to consider that Palin was wearing "thick riding gloves and a helmet when he tapped the side window".
"This would have contributed to his error in judging what he thought would have been a firm but non-destructive knock on the window," said Mr Nathan.
But Assistant Public Prosecutor Koh Huimin said the damage to Mr Chiang's side window and the injuries to the Palin's right hand indicated that substantial force was used.
There was no evidence from the footage from Mr Chiang's in-car camera that Palin was trying to get Mr Chiang's attention by pulling over to talk, she said.
WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY
Footage from Mr Chiang Pak Chien's in-car camera was shown during the hearing at the State Courts yesterday. This is what it revealed:
1 At 9.46am on Nov 16 last year, James George Palin overtakes Mr Chiang Pak Chien's car from the right while both are travelling along Tanjong Katong Road. Palin then stops his motorcycle in the middle of the road and gets off.
Mr Chiang's then fiancee, Ms Tan Hsu Phen, who is in the passenger's seat, tells Mr Chiang to "lock the doors" and not retaliate.
2 Palin walks over to Mr Chiang's side window and shouts, "What the **** are you doing?" At this point, Ms Tan screams. Palin's unidentified female pillion looks on as the 33-year-old Briton smashes Mr Chiang's window. Witnesses say he used his right hand to hit the window.
3 At this point, Ms Tan calls the police: "A motorbike rider FBB77 (sic) hitting my window!" Meanwhile, Palin returns to his motorcycle.
4 At 9.47am, Palin and his unidentified companion ride away from the scene. A witness sees Palin shatter the glass. Another witness, who is in his office in a nearby building, also calls the police.
PAST ROAD RAGE CASES
A motorist who pushed a motorcyclist off his bike was jailed for a day on Aug 6 and fined $3,000.
Australian Nathan Adrian Tallack, 39, pleaded guilty to pushing Lee Yao Rong Muhammad Saifuddin Ilyan Lee and disturbing public peace by fighting with him on April 1.
A technical manager was jailed two weeks for hurting a cabby.
Briton Christopher Gordon Sang, 43, was in his sports car when he came across taxi driver Liu San Chuang, 65.
The incident happened on July 19 last year at Dahlia Park condominium in Changi.
The cabby had wound down the window and used his right hand to signal for Sang to overtake him.
Instead, Sang got out of his car, walked towards the taxi, opened the passenger door behind the driver's seat and pushed Mr Liu's head forward while mumbling some words.
A catering executive who hurt a motorist was sentenced to eight weeks in jail.
Fizul Asrul Efandi, 28, was found guilty of punching Mr Leow Ching Khuan, 28, in the mouth and pushing him in the chest at the junction of Lentor Avenue and Yishun Avenue 1 at about 2.30am on June 30 last year.