German national Michael Fritsch, 38, was jailed for 10 days for punching a taxi driver, leaving him with a swelling on his forehead. The incident took place inside the cab along Kim Seng Road at 4.33am on 17 May last year. Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Lu Jia said that the German had many glasses of beer before the incident took place.
Teo said that Fritsch approached the cab which was in the queue for passengers along Kim Seng Road. A couple however reached the cab, driven by Mr Low Chong Peng, 52, first, but Fritsch entered the taxi before the couple could do so and told the cabbie to take him to Balestier Road.
The Court heard that when the cabbie refused to move, pointing out that the couple reached the taxi first and so should have the right to take the ride, Fritsch told him that he should have first priority to the taxi ride as he pays $40,000 in taxes to the Singapore government every year.
Mr Low finally agreed to take him to his destination when Fritsch refused to get out of his vehicle, but the German refused to give him details of his destination. When the cabbie turned around to inform Fritsch that he was calling the police, the German punched him. He then alighted from the taxi and left before the police could arrive.
Fritsch, head of business operations Asia Pacific region of T-Systems Singapore, was arrested five days later. Fritsch only offered the taxi driver a letter of apology and $1,675 in compensation 17 months after the incident. Fritsch asked the Court to consider a fine for his offence.
District Judge Lim Tse Haw however said that a fine would be inappropriate for Fritsch. Noting his late apology letter and compensation as well as the guilty plea, the judge said that there were hardly any mitigating factors in the case.
Describing Fritsch’s behaviour as “nothing short of deplorable” Judge Lim said: “I am of the view that the starting point for such a case is an imprisonment term of four weeks, but I am bringing down the prison term. I hope you have learnt your lesson in this incident and never ever to resort to violence against anyone, let alone a public transport worker. I am of the view that the custodial threshold has been crossed.”
The German could have been jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.