A free man after retrial, Norwegian says: Who will hire me now?
Norwegian fined $2,000 after retrial for causing hurt to cabby
He admits guilt over hurting a cabby. Now, Arne Corneliussen wants to put the entire incident behind him.
So much so that the Norwegian national is willing to forgo the $30,000 he had paid taxi driver Chan Chuan Heng as compensation.
But he told The New Paper he is still not ready to forgive the cabby for his part in the incident, which caused him to lose his job and spend nearly six weeks in prison on a conviction that was later quashed.
Said Corneliussen, 51, yesterday: "Do I forgive him? That is a good question because I still don't know how I feel about that."
The Singapore permanent resident added: "I have given this a lot of thought and in a way, I don't wish to blame (Chan) any longer. Blaming will not help me forget this incident in any way.
"He is going through his own trial. It's his turn now."
Corneliussen added that he also does not fault the police and the prosecution as they had "worked with every information they had at the time".
The Norwegian was fined $2,000 yesterday on a charge of causing hurt by wrapping his arm around the neck of the cabby, marking the end of his one-and-a-half-year-long ordeal.
This was a lesser charge compared to his previous charge of causing hurt by grabbing Chan's neck and choking him at the Boat Quay area after a night of drinking on Sept 22, 2014.
For that, he was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail last April.
His case took a dramatic turn a month later when two new witnesses said Chan was the one who had attacked Corneliussen.
The witnesses had left the scene before police arrived and reacted only months later, after reading a newspaper report about Corneliussen's conviction.
The new evidence led to the quashing of his initial sentence.
Corneliussen was released after spending five and a half weeks in jail - more than half his original sentence - and his case was sent back to the courts.
In the State Courts yesterday, the prosecution called for a one-day custodial sentence, saying it was appropriate, given Corneliussen's "brutish assault" of Chan in full view of members of the public.
The prosecution also recognised that Corneliussen had already served nearly six weeks in jail, but submitted that a deterrent sentence is necessary.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim disagreed with Corneliussen's defence counsel, Mr Terence Seah of Virtus Law, that Corneliussen had been trying to arrest Chan for attacking him.
As the Norwegian was drunk at the time and could not recall details, he was in "no position to give evidence on his intention at the time", said the judge.
"He could have recorded the taxi's licence plate number or called for the police, while waiting by the stationary taxi. But (he) did not avail himself of these options," she said.
The four witnesses who testified during the two-day retrial last December, including the two new witnesses, saw Corneliussen wrapping his arm around Chan.
Corneliussen and Chan had a disagreement over the taxi fare as the cabby had wanted to charge a flat fee rather than use the meter, according to witnesses' testimonies.
Judge Hamidah remarked that the two new witnesses, valet Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and his friend Roslan Zainal, were "obviously more sympathetic" to the accused, but they had no reason to lie.
The judge also rebuked an assertion by Mr Seah that Corneliussen had reacted to a "brutal" attack from Chan since there was no clear evidence suggesting this.
With the fine instead of a custodial sentence, Mr Seah explained to TNP that the five-and-a-half weeks' jail that Corneliussen served is essentially "water under the bridge" since the court has already taken it into account.
Yesterday, a visibly relieved Corneliussen walked out of the courtroom after paying the fine.
Speaking to TNP, he said he recognised he had made a mistake and felt remorseful.
Corneliussen, who moved here in 2001, said: "I will treat this as a learning experience. Right now, I want to stay positive and try to get a job here."
He lives in Batam with his wife. His two children, aged 27 and 23, are based in Norway.
He was fired from his previous job as a director with DHL and has been unemployed since December 2014.
When he was sacked, he had been working at the international logistics company for 29 years.
He also incurred a hefty legal fee and his personal reputation was affected, he said.
Said Corneliussen: "Just Google my name and you will see this case everywhere. It will be difficult to look for another job as I am a convict."
Before his first conviction last year, he had met Chan and given him the $30,000 as compensation for costs incurred by Chan's injuries and inability to work.
Last September, Chan was charged with causing hurt and providing false information to the police. His case is still before the courts.
If guilty, Chan faces a jail term of two years for causing hurt and one year for lying to the police. He could also be fined $5,000 on each charge.
Now that his court case is over, Corneliussen has one more thing to do.
He wants to personally thank Mr Ayub and Mr Roslan for stepping forward, but will wait till Chan's case has concluded before doing so.
"I am grateful, they did not have to step forward at all. A lot of people would have chosen not to do that because it would be troublesome," he said.
I have given this a lot of thought and in a way, I don't wish to blame (Chan) any longer. Blaming will not help me forget this incident in any way.
- Norwegian national Arne Corneliussen
He could have recorded the taxi's licence plate number or called for the police, while waiting by the stationary taxi. But (he) did not avail himself of these options.
- District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim on Arne Corneliussen
Just Google my name and you will see this case everywhere. It will be difficult to look for another job as I am a convict.
- Arne Corneliussen
THE NEW PAPER, APRIL 7, 2015
THE NEW PAPER, MAY 9
THE NEW PAPER, SEPT 16
TIMELINE OF CASE
SEPT 22, 2014
Witnesses tell police they saw Arne Corneliussen pinning cabby Chan Chuan Heng down and choking him at Boat Quay in the early hours of the morning.
Corneliussen is charged with two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to Chan. Around the same time, he is also sacked by his employer.
MARCH 24, 2015
Corneliussen pleads guilty to one charge. The second charge is taken into consideration.
District Judge Lim Tse Haw sentences Corneliussen to 10 weeks in jail.
Corneliussen's conviction is quashed when two new witnesses file affidavits saying that Chan was the aggressor, after reading newspaper reports on the Norwegian's sentence.
Chan is charged with providing false information to police and for voluntarily causing hurt to Corneliussen.
Corneliussen's retrial begins. He faces a charge of causing hurt by wrapping his hands around Chan's neck.
FEB 16, 2016
Corneliussen is fined $2,000 for causing hurt to Chan. His 5½-week term in prison was taken into account during sentencing.