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PP v Cheng Tai Peng [2012] SGDC 104

PP v Cheng Tai Peng [2012] SGDC 104

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Published by Gavin Ng
Judgement of the District Court
Judgement of the District Court

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Published by: Gavin Ng on Apr 05, 2012
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Public Prosecutor v Cheng Tai Peng[2012] SGDC 104
Suit No
:MCN No. 130 of 2011
Decision Date
:30 March 2012
Court
:District Court
Coram
:Roy Grenville Neighbour
Counsel
:Davyd Chong, Deputy Public Prosecutor for the Public Prosecutor; Appellant in Person
30 March 2012
District Judge Roy Grenville Neighbour:
1 The appellant is the accused. The appellant claimed trial to a charge of voluntary causing hurt to one ChuaTeck Seng (“the victim”). On 3 April ’10 at about 2.40 p.m., the appellant slapped and punched the victim in theface and also kicked him whilst travelling on board a MRT train proceeding from Bukit Batok MRT railway station toChoa Chu Kang MRT station.2 At the conclusion of the trial the appellant was found guilty and convicted on the charge. Dissatisfied with theconviction the appellant lodged this appeal.
FACTS
3 At the trial the prosecution adduced evidence from the victim who stated that on 3 April ’10 sometime past2.00 pm., he took the SMRT train at Chinatown. Thereafter, he changed trains at Jurong East intending to alight atChoa Chu Kang station. Whilst on the train bound for Choa Chu Kang, the victim stood in front of a seated femalepassenger. When the train was about to arrive at Bukit Gombak, the female passenger, from her body language,gave the impression to the victim and the appellant that she was going to vacate her seat. At this juncture, theappellant who was standing beside the victim pushed the victim aside with the obvious intention of occupying theseat the moment the female passenger got up to leave. Another passenger, Lim Joo Hee (“Lim”) seated oppositetestified that he saw the appellant and the victim standing beside each other and there was body contact betweenthem. He heard the victim say to the appellant “you should excuse me when you see me moving forward to find aseat.” The victim was also heard to remark “Young man, how can you push an old man like that”, the appellantretorted “So what if you are an old man?” Does an old man have a golden tablet?”. The victim immediatelyunderstood the appellant’s cultural reference to the golden tablet to mean that those given the tablet by theEmperor during the period of the dynasties in China, are protected. In present day context, the victim understoodthe reference to “the golden tablet” to mean that he should be accorded respect because of his age.4 Then, quite suddenly and forcefully, the appellant slapped the victim on the face over the left ear. Theappellant also hit the victim on the eye and nose. When another passenger held the appellant to prevent theappellant from further assaulting the victim, the appellant was heard to say “You had better let go, otherwise Iwould hit you too”. Immediately the victim backed away from the appellant in fear of being hit again. The appellantthen advanced forward threatening to assault the victim. According to the victim, the appellant looked very fierce.The victim was very frightened. When he victim retreated to another part of the railway carriage, the appellantwent and occupied the seat the female passenger vacated.5 Shortly, when the appellant noticed the victim looking at him the appellant retorted “You still want?” Thereupon, the appellant left his seat, went up to the victim and began assaulting the victim again by kicking andpunching him.6 This incident was also witnessed by Grace Yaw Chue Yan (“Grace”) a 2
nd
year National University of 
 
awNet Legal Researchhttp://www.lawnet.com.sg/lrweb/tools.do?subaction=lrLp2ToolsShowPr...1 of 54/5/2012 10:20 AM
 
Singapore (“NUS”) undergraduate. Grace testified that she saw the appellant hitting the victim rather mercilesslywhile the victim in all his actions, tried to defend himself. Of this she had no doubt. She saw the appellant punchingthe victim on the face. She also saw a young man intervene to stop the appellant assaulting the victim. Thereafter,Grace saw the appellant turn his attention to the victim once again. She saw the appellant again raining blows onthe victim and also kicking the victim heartlessly. When she realized that other commuters in the train were doingnothing to stop the appellant’s attack on the victim, she pressed the emergency stop button on the train to alertSMRT staff of the incident.7 Besides, Grace witnessing the incident, Lim also saw the appellant assaulting the victim on the train. He too,saw the appellant first slap the victim on the cheek before punching the victim’s face. He also saw a young manintervene to stop the appellant from further assaulting the victim. After an exchange of words with the appellant,the young man, who was in a group, left the train when it stopped at Bukit Gombak. Lim further testified that whenthe train proceeded to Choa Chu Kang MRT station, he saw the appellant go toward the victim and assault thevictim again by punching the victim several times. However, he could not recall whether or not the appellant kickedthe victim. He stated that the appellant was clearly the aggressor in the incident.8 Consequently, when the train was travelling to Choa Chu Kang MRT Station, Station Manager Tan Swee Hua(“Station Manager Tan”) was informed that the emergency communication button was activated on the approachingsouthbound train. Together with two of his officers he immediately went to the platform to investigate. Uponboarding the train, several passengers identified the victim to him as the old man who was assualted by theappellant. Immediately, the victim and the appellant were escorted out of the train. Station Manager Tan noticedthat the victim’s eyes were red. The victim and the appellant were separated and escorted from the platform toMRT offices below. While escorting the appellant, Station Manager Tan said that the appellant behaved aggressivelytowards him. The appellant shouted vulgarities at him and even raised his hand to hit him. When Station ManagerTan told the appellant “You want to hit me?” the appellant quickly retorted that he was not so stupid to do so withall the security cameras around.9 It was at this juncture that off duty Police Corporal Iskhairy Bin Haron (“Cpl Iskhairy”) heard a commotionwhilst walking along the platform. He volunteered to assist when saw the appellant shouting, gesticulating andbehaving aggressively to Station Manager Tan. Cpl Iskhairy noticed, at that juncture, that the victim was injured onthe face. The victim was bleeding from the nose, had redness in the eyes and his cheek was swollen. Subsequently,other SMRT staff came and attended to the victim and to the appellant. While waiting for the police to arrive, CplIskhairy obtained the appellant’s and the victim’s personal particulars. After giving his personal particulars, theappellant left the scene before the arrival of police officers.10 Consequently, the victim was sent to the National University Hospital (“NUH”) for a medical examination.There, Dr Benjamin Goh (“Dr Goh”) medically examined the victim. Dr Goh stated that initially he found nobleeding in the anterior chamber of the victim’s left eye, however, when the victim was subsequently reviewed bythe Ophthalmologist, some retinal bleeding was observed. In his examination of the victim, Dr Goh found ahaematoma over the cartilaginous portion of the victim’s left ear with no open wound. An otoscopic examination of the ear however, revealed that the victim’s left ear drum was perforated. Dr Goh also noted that there wereabrasions over the nose but no significant tenderness or septal haematoma. Dr Goh opined that all these injuriescould have been caused by slaps or punches to the left side of the victim’s face.11 At the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, I was satisfied that the prosecution had proved a prima facie casein respect of the charge against the appellant. Accordingly, the appellant was called upon for his defence to thecharge. The appellant elected to give evidence from the witness box.
DEFENCE
12 The appellant stated that on 3 Apr ’10 at about 2.30 pm he boarded the SMRT train. Upon entering thecarriage, he stood holding onto the handrails. When the train was at Bukit Gombak MRT Station he looked at thereflection carriage’s window to see if there was a vacant seat or if passengers were indicating that they were about
awNet Legal Researchhttp://www.lawnet.com.sg/lrweb/tools.do?subaction=lrLp2ToolsShowPr...2 of 54/5/2012 10:20 AM
 
to leave their seats. When the train came to a stop he noticed the victim standing in the same carriage but somedistance away from him. After the train left Bukit Gombak for Choa Chu Kang, he noticed a lady move forward inher seat giving him the impression that she was going to vacate her seat. He then turned 180 degrees, took a stepforward and stood and facing the female passenger. When the female passenger vacated her seat and stood up,the appellant took a small step forward indicating that he would like to occupy the vacated seat. At this juncture,the victim’s right shoulder hit him hard resulting in him taking a step backwards. The appellant then movedforward and with his left shoulder hit the victim’s right shoulder with minimum force. Responding, the victim usedhis shoulder and arms to push him away. The appellant stood his ground and resisted. The victim told him in theHokkien dialect “You should let the seats to an old man”. The appellant asked “Old man has a right to be funny orcheeky?” The appellant stated that the victim was bold. The he thought “How old is old?”. He estimated that thevictim to be in his 40’s. The victim had no problem walking. He had no walking stick. He had a muscular build.13 The appellant said he was annoyed that the victim used his right shoulder to push him aside. The victim usedhis whole body and banged hard into him, resulting in the appellant having to lean backwards. Upon usingminimum force the appellant said he pushed both the victim’s shoulders away resulting in the victim taking a stepbackwards. The victim retaliated by throwing a punch at his face and he managed to avoid the blow. The appellantsaid that the victim’s punch only brushed the tip of his nose. He believed that the victim knew how to fight. Theappellant explained that he was wearing specatacles and had the victim’s punch landed on his face it could haveresulted in him suffering a bleeding or broken nose. He decided to slap the victim on the left side of the face hopingthat the victim will back off. However, when the victim swung another punch at his nose, he again avoided the blowby stepping backwards and slapped the victim again on the left side of his face. The victim did not back off andswung a third punch that again brushed the tip of his nose. The appellant said he returned with another slap to theleft side of the victim’s face. By this time, the other passengers in the carriage moved away from them. The victimtoo, withdrew to where he originally stood in the carriage. As the female passenger had vacated her seat, theappellant occupied it.14 Shortly, the victim said about five times in Hokkien “Hitting old man”. This irritated the appellant and heretorted “Are you looking for trouble?” At this juncture, the victim uttered a vulgarity in Hokkien. Stunned by whatthe victim had said, he got up and approached the victim.15 Whilst approaching the victim, a young man grabbed hold of both his arms at the elbows and told him not topursue the matter further. In response the appellant asked if he was a police officer and if he was, to show himdocuments otherwise, he ought to let go of his arms. When the young man did not respond, he raised his arm as if to hit the young man. He also raised his right leg. The appellant said he did this to scare the young man into lettinghim go. The appellant said he had no intention to hit the young man. In response to the appellant’s actions, theyoung man jumped back.16 Then he walked to the victim inquiring why he had to utter a vulgarity involving his parents. When he wasapproximately 4 steps away from the victim, the victim stepped forward and very quickly and suddenly threw apunch at him. He managed to avoid the blow by leaning backwards. The blow once again brushed the tip of hisnose. The appellant went forward and slapped the victim twice on the face. After the second slap the victim wentdown into a squatting position and showed him his senior citizen’s pass. After warning the victim not to involve hisparents in the argument, the appellant returned to his seat.17 When the train stopped at Choa Chu Kang MRT Station, the Station manager approached him. He explainedhis side of the story and said that he was assaulted by the victim. Whilst being escorted, he passed by Lim who toldhim to watch out and that he will testify and be a witness for the victim. Subsequently, when Cpl Iskhairy cameasked for his personal particulars he provided them. As he had an appointment, he decided not to wait for thearrival of the police and left after informing Station Manager Tan. Subsequently, he was contacted Inspector KelvinChew in connection with the incident.
CONVICTION
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