Norwegian in cabby attack retrial: Crowd was hostile
Norwegian in retrial for hurting cabby allegedly told by hostile crowd: 'You will leave Singapore in a coffin'
"You will leave Singapore in a coffin," one bystander allegedly told Arne Corneliussen.
This was after the Norwegian had pinned down a cabby, who had punched him on the left side of his face at Boat Quay last September.
But the crowd that had gathered to watch the commotion thought that Corneliussen was the aggressor.
Three men tried to pull him off cabby Chan Chuan Heng, 47. Other people also began shouting at him.
This was part of the testimony of Corneliussen, a Singapore permanent resident, who took the stand during his retrial yesterday.
He faces one charge of causing hurt by wrapping his hands around the cabby's neck.
Yesterday, the 51-year-old told the court that he had argued with Chan over the taxi fare in the early morning of Sept 22 last year, hours after a Formula 1 race he had attended.
Eager to get home after a round of drinks with friends, he was looking for a taxi when he found Chan.
The cabby was standing beside his taxi near Boomarang Bistro & Bar at Boat Quay.
But Corneliussen said he was quoted a $45 flat fare to get to his East Coast home.
Said Corneliussen: "I insisted to use the meter. I have been living in Singapore for a while and I know a flat fare is not allowed.
"So I told him I would report him if he chose not to use the meter.
"He got angry and the next thing I know is that everything went black."
Two witnesses testified on Monday that Chan had hit Corneliussen with his right hand at that point.
Corneliussen recalled squatting on the pavement and bleeding from his face, then getting back up on his feet.
But he could not remember chasing Chan three times and grabbing him by the neck, which witnesses said he did.
He believes the memory loss was due to a concussion from the blow, he later told prosecutors during their cross-examination.
He could recall that the crowd had behaved aggressively towards him, so he left the scene as he did not feel safe.
But he later returned to the scene.
"I decided to go back because I wanted to report it. I had been hit, had a headache and was bleeding from the side of my face," he said.
When he got back, he was stopped by three to four people.
One man told him that he would be leaving Singapore in a coffin.
Soon after Corneliussen was charged on Dec 8 last year, he was fired from his job as a programme management director at DHL.
He had also paid Chan $30,000 in compensation after a meeting between the two parties. Chan had asked for the money, said Corneliussen.
His lawyer, Mr Terence Seah from Virtus Law, said that Corneliussen pleaded guilty because he had been too drunk to remember the details of the fight, and the police had eyewitness accounts that he had attacked Chan.
The Norwegian recalled being surprised when Mr Seah told him about the new witnesses. He was then in prison, serving his 10-week jail sentence.
He had been in jail for around six weeks when he was released.
District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim will deliver her verdict on Feb 12 next year.
Investigation officer was told Corneliussen had fled scene
Investigation officer (IO) Lin Jun Quan revealed that he did not go to the scene that night as he was told that the attacker had fled.
Assistant Superintendant of Police Lin, 29, told the court that he was doing the night shift when he received a call from another police officer about an altercation at Boat Quay.
ASP Lin said: "I asked the police officer to take down (the) particulars of the witnesses and the victim, check for blood and for closed-circuit television cameras around the area. But I did not go down to the scene as I was informed that the defendant (Corneliussen) had fled."
He also found details of the case published on sociopolitical site The Real Singapore (TRS) the next day, testified ASP Lin.
"I realised that this case had some attention on it. That's why I immediately called the victim and the two witnesses (that we knew of at the time) for their statements," he said.
ASP Lin later found out that Corneliussen's wife had made a police report at Bedok Police Division on the night of the incident after seeing her husband's head injury.
He also saw a picture of Corneliussen posted on TRS, which confirmed that the Norwegian had fled the scene.
The picture was uploaded by a friend of Chan, said ASP Lin when asked by District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim.
When Corneliussen's conviction was later quashed, ASP Lin reopened the case and interviewed the new witnesses.
Because of the new evidence, one of the prosecution's charges - that Corneliussen had slapped Chan - was dropped.
Meanwhile, a charge of providing false information to the police was brought against Chan.
"Chan had given false information to me. The false statement came from telling me that he was slapped by the defendant," said ASP Lin.
CHAIN OF EVENTS
Sept 22, 2014
Witnesses tell police they saw Arne Corneliussen pinning cabby Chan Chuan Heng down and choking him at Boat Quay.
Corneliussen, a Norwegian, is charged in the State Courts with two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to Chan. 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 after 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.