Public Prosecutor v Manoj s/o Sankar

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeJanet Wang Lan Jee
Judgment Date12 October 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] SGDC 286
Citation[2015] SGDC 286
Publication Date16 October 2015
Docket NumberMCN 900577/2014
Plaintiff CounselDPP Jeremy Lua
Defendant CounselMr Kalidass
District Judge Janet Wang Lan Jee: Background

The menace of road rage set the stage in this appeal against sentence.

The accused, a 37-year old delivery driver, had punched the victim, a 53-year old taxi driver twice on his face. The assault stemmed from an incident on the road when they were travelling in the vicinity of Serangoon Road on the afternoon of 7 November 2013. The victim had stopped his taxi at a traffic light. At the material time, the lorry driven by the accused was behind the victim’s vehicle.

Upon the traffic light turning green, the victim failed to move his vehicle. The accused then sounded his horn. They proceeded to drive to the junction of Playfair Road to MacPherson Road. Both vehicles came to a stop at the junction. At that juncture, the accused left his lorry and approached the victim’s taxi. He kicked the door of the taxi and knocked on the window where the victim was seated. Fearing that the accused would break the window, the victim wound it down. The accused then punched the victim once on his face. As the victim exited his taxi to flee from the accused, the latter punched his face again. The victim pushed the accused away. Both parties called the police. Before the arrival of the police, the accused told the victim to look for him in Yishun.

The victim sustained bleeding from his lips and nose, as well as bodily pain from the assault.

The accused first claimed trial to a charge of voluntarily causing hurt under section 323 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. On the second day of the designated trial before the commencement of the hearing, the accused pleaded guilty to this charge. For ease of reference, the charge is set out as follows:

You, Manoj s/o Sankar, are charged that you, on 7 November 2013, at or about 3.26pm, at the junction of Playfair Road to MacPherson Road, Singapore, did voluntarily cause hurt to one Tong Chee Loong (M/53), to wit, by punching the said Tong Chee Loong twice on his face causing him to feel bodily pain and bleed from his lips and nose, and you have thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 323 of the Penal Code, Chapter 224

I imposed a sentence of 25 days’ imprisonment against which the accused has appealed. He is presently on bail pending the appeal.

Integral to this appeal is whether a custodial sentence ought to have been imposed. I now set out my reasons.

Mitigation

In mitigation, counsel sought a fine. In support of a non-custodial sentence, counsel submitted that the accused was suffering from a major depressive disorder at the material time which stemmed from a failed marriage1. The defence conceded that there was no causal link between the mental condition of the accused and the offence2. According to counsel, the accused had perceived the victim to be the source of aggression and abuse, namely, in showing his middle finger, driving dangerously and deliberately blocking the vehicle of the accused by ‘jam-braking’. Annoyed at the victim’s conduct and concerned over his safety, the accused approached the former’s vehicle to speak and request him to stop driving dangerously. The defence further submitted that the victim had acted belligerently by uttering vulgarities and showing his middle finger, which provoked the accused into reacting. According to counsel, the accused made voluntary compensation of $1000 and a written apology to the victim. Both were accepted by the victim3. In her letter to the court seeking leniency for the accused, his mother stated that she and her husband depended very much on him for care and financial support. According to her, the accused was well liked and well respected by his friends, for whom he carried out free delivery. She claimed that he was not a violent person. She added that the accused would lose his delivery contract, of which he was the main contractor, if he were incarcerated. The loss of the delivery contract would also affect his subcontractors.

The sentence

The prescribed punishment for the offence of voluntarily causing hurt under section 323 of the Penal Code (Cap.224) is a maximum imprisonment term of 2 years or a maximum fine of $5000, or both.

Whether the custodial threshold was breached

I found this issue to be answered in the affirmative. The accused was the sole aggressor in the unilateral attack on the victim. His act of approaching and confronting the victim was a...

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