DPP to accused cabby: You demanded $45 fare, punched victim
Video footage played in court shows cabby being chased but DPP says it's incomplete
It began as yet another case of a drunk man assaulting a taxi driver in September 2014.
But after the apparent aggressor, Mr Arne Corneliussen, a 49-year-old Norwegian who is a permanent resident here, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail, the case took a turn.
Two men stepped forward to finger the apparent victim, cabby Chan Chuan Heng, as the one who started the fight.
Last September, Chan was charged with voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Corneliussen and giving false information to the police.
He claimed trial, and when the case resumed yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Zhuo Wenzhao ripped into Chan on the witness stand.
The DPP focused on three main points:
• The video footage from the taxi's in-vehicle camera incriminated Mr Corneliussen while the portion that might incriminate Chan was missing;
• Chan refusing to use his taxi meter and demanding a flat rate of $45, then turning violent when Mr Corneliussen baulked at the fare; and
• Chan demanding $60,000 compensation from Mr Corneliussen for injuring him.
Footage from the front camera shows Chan being chased by Mr Corneliussen at the end of Circular Road near Boat Quay at around 1am on Sept 22, 2014.
The clip, which was played in court yesterday, also shows a group of men trying to separate the two men, who are scuffling. The shouting of vulgarities can be heard.
The video suggests that Chan is a victim of an assault by Mr Corneliussen.
THE NEW PAPER, SEPT 16, 2015
But DPP Zhuo argued that Chan had "deliberately extracted" portions of the clip that was shown to the police.
He told Chan: "You had deliberately left out the portion of the CCTV before Arne chased you because that CCTV would have shown and supported Arne's case."
Chan disagreed, saying that he did not extract the footage before the chase because "you can't see anything".
He stuck to his story that he was slapped first by Mr Corneliussen. (See report)
In his statement to the police, Chan said he had asked Mr Corneliussen loudly after being slapped: "Why did you hit me?"
However, this could not be backed up by witnesses.
The incident ended with Chan being choked by Mr Corneliussen, who told the court during his case that he had no recollection of the events that night because of his intoxication.
The two witnesses who came forward in March testified in early July that they had seen Chan hitting Mr Corneliussen first.
Mr Roslan Zainal said he saw Mr Corneliussen squatting on the ground behind the cab, covering his head with both hands and saying: "Why did you hit me?"
His friend, Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood, said he heard Mr Corneliussen shout: "Why so expensive? You want to cheat me?"
DEMANDED $45 FARE
DPP Zhuo suggested that Chan had asked for a flat rate of $45 without using the meter after Mr Corneliussen asked to be taken to Upper East Coast Road.
When Mr Corneliussen refused and threatened to report the matter to the taxi company, Chan punched him on the left temple.
Chan disagreed with DPP Zhuo.
But he agreed with the DPP that the missing portion of the video clip would have captured their conversation.
DPP Zhuo said: "This would have supported your case that he (Mr Corneliussen) had indeed slapped you."
Replying "yes" through a Mandarin interpreter, Chan added: "I also regret I didn't extract the other clip."
It was also raised in court that Chan had failed to state in his first police report, made on the day of the attack, that Mr Corneliussen had lunged at him a second time.
The prosecution suggested that he came up with the story of blocking with his hands in self-defence only after learning there were witnesses who had seen him hit Mr Corneliussen.
In a police statement in May 2015, Chan said he "could have hit the person when I blocked".
Investigation officer (IO) Lin Junquan told the court that Chan had initially sought a small amount of about $3,500 for loss of income and $200 for medical bill from Mr Corneliussen.
The IO asked Chan a few times about the issue of compensation but was largely ignored by Chan, who said he "had money" and needed to consult a lawyer.
He later learnt that Chan had demanded $60,000 from Mr Corneliussen after he had surgery on his fractured foot.
In the end, Chan received $30,000 from Mr Corneliussen.
You had deliberately left out the portion of the CCTV before Arne chased you because that CCTV would have shown and supported Arne's case.
- DPP Zhuo Wenzhao
Chain of events
Sept 22, 2014: Witnesses tell police they saw Norwegian Arne Corneliussen choking cabby Chan Chuan Heng at Boat Quay. Corneliussen admits he had several drinks that night. He tells the court he was upset when Chan wanted to charge him $45 to take him home to Upper East Coast Road.
Dec 9, 2014: Corneliussen is charged with two counts of voluntarily causing hurt to Chan, who suffered a fractured left foot.
March 24, 2015: Corneliussen pleads guilty to one charge, while the other is taken into consideration.
April 1, 2015: He is sentenced to 10 weeks' jail.
May 8, 2015: Two new witnesses file affidavits fingering Chan as the attacker after they read news reports on Corneliussen's sentence.
Mr Mohamed Ayub Shaik Dawood and Mr Roslan Zainal say they saw the entire altercation.
Corneliussen's conviction is quashed and the case is sent back to the State Courts for a retrial. By then, Corneliussen has served six weeks of his sentence. He had also lost his job as a DHL director and had paid Chan $30,000 as compensation.
At the retrial, Corneliussen is fined $2,000 for a lesser charge of causing hurt by wrapping his arm around the cabby's neck.
Sept 14, 2015: Chan is charged with voluntarily causing hurt to Corneliussen and giving false information to the police.