SINGAPORE — A woman who refused to pay her taxi fare after a ride, then used a wooden pizza pan to hit the elderly taxi driver, was given a year of reformative training on Wednesday (3 March).
The prosecution told the court during the 20-year-old's sentencing hearing that a mandatory treatment order was not recommended for the woman, as she has since recovered from her adjustment disorder.
The woman – who cannot be named as she was below 18 years old when she first offended in a separate incident –had been assessed as suitable for two years of probation and a stint of reformative training.
However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei submitted that reformative training – which is a stiffer form of punishment when compared to probation – was more suitable due to the structure of the programs involved.
She told the court that the woman had offended 37 times from April 2017 to August last year, and reoffended even while she was under investigation by the police.
The woman had also "minimised (her) offending behaviour" in both probation and reformative training reports and was not fully forthcoming while being interviewed.
"It appears (that she is found) not to be receptive to parents' control, even after moving in with her father in October 2020, (she does) not appear receptive to his guidance and supervision," DPP Tan said, adding that she ignored his advice to stop drinking and that her father had discharged himself as a bailor.
The woman's father was present in court on Wednesday, with the woman's pro bono lawyer Yeo Ying Hao informing District Judge May Mesenas that he "had never given up on her" even though he discharged himself as bailor.
He is prepared to sign a bond should probation be imposed, said the lawyer. Yeo sought a probation term for the woman, with additional conditions that she be required to seek treatment with the Institute of Mental Health to address any psychiatric relapse.
Yeo previously told the court about her family background, including a controlling mother and an abusive ex-boyfriend. The woman had lived in the street for a while until her father – who is separated from her mother – took her in last October.
The lawyer also submitted a letter from his client, who asked for leniency and said that her life ambition was to be a lawyer.
DJ Mesenas noted that it was good that the woman's father had not given up, as he was her "only lifeline" at this point. She imposed a term of reformative training considering its structured environment and that, if the woman should reoffend while on probation, she might face a jail term.
Suffering from adjustment disorder during time of offence
The woman previously pleaded guilty to one count of rash act, voluntarily causing hurt, and failing to wear a mask in relation to the offence last year. The incident was mentioned in a widely shared Facebook post by the taxi driver’s son, who appealed for help to identify the woman.
According to the prosecution, the woman was suffering from an adjustment disorder at the time of the offence. She had also been brought into the IMH's emergency services multiple times for being hysterical during the period of her various offences.
On 15 July last year, the woman hailed a taxi from Ang Mo Kio while she was not wearing a mask.
A 71-year-old taxi driver picked her up and the woman directed him to drive to Prinsep Street. When they arrived, the driver asked for the taxi fare, which amounted to $14.24. However, the woman left without paying.
The taxi driver then alighted and followed the woman, taking a photo of her on his mobile phone.
The two passed by a restaurant located at 64 Prinsep Street, when the woman saw that the taxi driver was trying to photograph her. She swung her right arm at the driver, who blocked with his forearm.
When the taxi driver continued to follow her, she stopped outside Beerytale, a karaoke outlet, and picked up a wooden pizza pan left on the ledge outside the shop. She used the pan to strike the taxi driver, who again deflected the blows with his forearm.
The woman then flung the wooden pizza board at the cabby and walked off. She pursued the taxi driver towards his taxi after realising that he had taken her photograph.
While there, the woman opened the front passenger door of the taxi and grabbed the NETS terminal, threatening to throw the machine at the taxi driver unless he deleted her photo.
The taxi driver responded by calling for the police and the woman hurled the machine at him. It missed him. The woman then departed.
The taxi driver sought treatment for the injury the next day. He did not sustain fractures from the incident.
The woman also pleaded guilty to a score of other charges, including theft, theft in dwelling, cheating, and 13 counts of failing to pay taxi fares between 2019 and last year.
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