Briton fined for punching man in dispute over car park lot
S'pore PR was involved in heated quarrel with victim at East Coast Park carpark
As a grassroots leader, he had helped to mediate neighbour disputes and parking issues.
Ironically, a parking dispute got John Duncan Tasker, 48, chief operating officer of a sportswear company, in trouble with the law.
The Briton, who was the vice chairman of the Upper Changi Neighbourhood Committee (UCNC) and had won the HDB Good Neighbour Award for Siglap Division in 2013, punched another motorist in the face at a carpark in a fit of rage.
Tasker, a father of two, was fined $1,500 yesterday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt in the incident in May.
The Singapore permanent resident was also ordered to pay $1,000 in compensation to his victim, financial adviser Yak Eng Kiat, 37.
One count of committing a rash act was taken into consideration during sentencing.
Speaking to The New Paper after the verdict yesterday, Mr Yak said the blow landed near his eyes and broke his spectacles.
"Luckily the lens didn't shatter and enter my eyes or I could have been blinded," he added.
"What kind of example was he setting for his kids?"
Mr Yak said that he decided to take his family out for a day on the beach at East Coast Park at around 6pm on May 30.
He dropped his wife and two children - a four-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son - at Carpark C1, near the Big Splash before driving off to look for a parking space.
The carpark was full. But after about 15 minutes of waiting, he spotted a car that was about to vacate a space and drove towards it.
Mr Yak said he switched on his hazard lights and waited on the one-way lane.
He then saw Tasker driving against the flow of traffic from the other end of the lane and waited for the same space.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Shen Wanqin told District Judge Shawn Ho yesterday that Mr Yak then honked to indicate that he had been waiting for the space.
DPP Shen said: "The accused then showed a hand signal which the victim understood to mean 'what'."
She added that when the car left the parking space, Tasker reversed his car into the very space that Mr Yak had been eyeing.
Mr Yak said: "I was angry. He stole my space and could still act in such a defiant manner."
He drove forward and wound down his window to ask Tasker why he had driven against the flow of traffic and taken his space.
Mr Yak said: "I asked him, 'How could you do this?'"
Tasker then got out of his car and a quarrel ensued.
"I got angry and I scolded him with an expletive," Mr Yak admitted.
Tasker then punched Mr Yak on the right side of his face.
Mr Yak said: "He broke my specs. I was shocked and saw stars when this happened.
"I'm a mild-mannered person. I've never quarrelled with anyone and it was the first time somebody punched me.
"After that, he walked back to his car."
Mr Yak said he was bleeding but got out of his car to take a picture of Tasker's vehicle number with his mobile phone camera.
Tasker's lawyer, Mr Terence Tan, had said In mitigation that Mr Yak banged on the front of his client's car with his fists while swearing and shouting, demanding that Tasker get out of the vehicle.
Mr Yak denied doing so when TNP asked him about it yesterday.
He said: "I stood in front of his car but he stepped on the accelerator. I stepped out of the way and he sped off, missing me by about a metre."
DPP Shen said that an eyewitness informed the police and called for an ambulance.
Mr Yak was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH), where he was found to have a bruise on his face and a 2cm cut on his eyelid.
He said: "I called my wife only when I was at CGH and it turned out that my family had been very worried for me as I did not turn up at the beach after about an hour.
"They immediately went to the hospital and were relieved that I wasn't badly injured."
Mr Yak said he was given two stitches and six days of medical leave.
He added: "I will never forgive him. He had put me through a terrible experience.
"Now I don't confront people over minor matters. I've learnt to let things go. It's not worth it."
Mr Tan told the court yesterday that his client was the vice chairman of UCNC from 2013 and had volunteered there until July this year.
Responding to queries, the People's Association told TNP yesterday that it takes a serious view towards those who do not uphold its "standards of conduct and discipline".
It said: "Mr Tasker is no longer a grassroots leader."
For voluntarily causing hurt, Tasker could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
I will never forgive him. He had put me through a terrible experience.
- Mr Yak Eng Kiat on John Duncan Tasker
Lawyer: Victim did not stop yelling, hurled expletives
HIT: (Top) Mr Yak Eng Kiat said that John Duncan Tasker punched him once in the face. (Above) He suffered a bruise on his face and a 2cm cut above his right eyelid. PHOTOS: PHYLLICIA WANG, COURTESY OF YAK ENG KIAT
Former grassroots leader John Duncan Tasker's behaviour at East Coast Park on May 30 was "atypical and completely uncharacteristic of him", the court heard yesterday.
In his mitigation, his lawyer, Mr Terence Tan, told the court that his client, a former captain with the Royal Military Police of the British Army, sits on the board of a Commonwealth charity.
He added that Tasker, 48, also recently volunteered with another organisation to build homes in Cambodia for those in need. Court papers did not mention the names of these two organisations.
Mr Tan also told the court a version of events that was different from what was presented in the statement of facts by the prosecution.
He said that Tasker was walking away with his two children after parking his car when Mr Yak Eng Kiat lowered his car window and started shouting at him. Tasker tried to ignore Mr Yak, who continued yelling.
Mr Tan said his client then walked over to Mr Yak and told him that he had no claim over the disputed parking space.
He added: "Notwithstanding John's explanation, the victim continued shouting at John.
"John asked the victim to calm down. At that juncture, the victim hurled expletives at John."
Tasker then told Mr Yak to watch his language in front of the children and punched him, the court heard. Mr Tan said that Mr Yak was "incensed" and got out of his car.
Mr Tan also told the court that his client feared for the safety of his children, who began to cry in fear. He added that Tasker took them back to the car and locked the doors.
He said Mr Yak started banging on the front of his client's car, asking him to get out.
Mr Tan told District Judge Shawn Ho: "At this point, John's daughter started hyperventilating and he was fearful for the safety of his children."
The lawyer said that his client edged his car forward and Mr Yak stepped aside.
"John then drove off and immediately lodged a police report at Mountbatten Police Station," said Mr Tan.
At this point, John's daughter started hyperventilating and he was fearful for the safety of his children.
- Mr Terence Tan, who was John Duncan Tasker's lawyer, told the court
OTHER ROAD RAGE CASES
A provision shop owner was jailed for seven weeks on Oct 29 after assaulting an elderly Catholic priest.
Dick Lim Poh Guan, 25, punched the priest, now 72, once on the nose and kicked him when he fell to the ground on Feb 20 last year.
The court heard that the priest was driving along Victoria Street and was about to turn right into Middle Road when he stopped to allow pedestrians to cross at the junction.
This annoyed Lim, who was driving behind him. The younger man tailed him to nearby Cashin Street, off North Bridge Road, where he later assaulted the priest.
A cabby accidentally hit a motorcycle, causing the rider's girlfriend, who was riding pillion, to fall over to the right.
Unhappy, the rider, a 26-year-old sales executive, punched and abused the 56-year-old taxi driver at the junction of Clementi Avenue 6 and Commonwealth Avenue West on Feb 21.
The younger man was jailed for a month and fined $600 on Aug 12.
An engineer who pushed another man in a case of road rage was jailed for a week on July 8.
The 25-year-old man pushed a 55-year-old sales manager on his chest at Block 821, Tampines Street 81, on Jan 21.
The court heard that the victim was driving his car along Tampines Street 81 when he saw the engineer riding across a zebra crossing on his motorised bicycle.
The sales manager had to stop his car suddenly to avoid hitting him. He also honked.
Angry with the older man for honking, the engineer followed him to the carpark and pushed him as he was walking near Block 821, causing the victim to fall.