SINGAPORE: A cyclist who jumped onto the bonnet of a car in a road rage incident in Katong had a brain tumour, but it did not cause or contribute to her offence, a court heard on Wednesday (Jul 10).

Nicolette Tan Shi-en, 32, pleaded guilty in April to one charge of intentionally harassing driver Elaine Michele Ow, 50, in an altercation in June 2023 that went viral.

A second charge of obstructing the road will be taken into consideration for sentencing.

Video clips of the incident showed Tan, who was a lawyer at the time, tailing Ow’s car after feeling Ow had driven too close to her at a bend.

Tan caught up with Ow at a red light at the traffic junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road and blocked Ow from moving ahead.

In the ensuing altercation, Tan jumped onto the car bonnet and Ow drove off. Tan got off only at the entrance of the car park to i12 Katong mall.

THE TUMOUR

At the hearing in April, Tan’s lawyers from Allen and Gledhill revealed that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after the incident.

Mr Sanjiv Rajan sought a fine of S$2,000 (US$1,480) for Tan, highlighting her various conditions, including major depressive disorder. 

He cited an expert who said the onset of the tumour likely predates the altercation and could have influenced her behaviour.

The lawyer said the location of the tumour, in the left frontal region of the brain, may lead to personality changes, disinhibition and impairment of judgment.

The judge adjourned the case for the defence to obtain clarification on whether the brain tumour had a causal link to Tan’s offence.

On Wednesday, Mr Sanjiv confirmed with the court that his efforts to clarify the issue have come back with a response that while it was possible, it does not “take it to the level required in law”.

When asked by District Judge Janet Wang if the defence conceded that there was no causal or contributory link between the tumour and the offending conduct, Mr Sanjiv agreed.

He expressed his gratitude to the court for giving the defence time to “draw a line in the sand”.

Prosecutors have sought a short detention order (SDO) for Tan. An SDO is a community-based sentence that detains an offender in prison for not more than 14 days. 

It is supposed to act as a deterrent by allowing an offender to experience prison life but does not leave a criminal record.

The judge said she was reserving judgment in light of the latest medical reports and adjourned sentencing to September.

Ow’s case is also pending. She pleaded guilty in February to one count of a rash act endangering Tan’s safety.

Her case is set for a further mention on Friday. Prosecutors are also seeking an SDO and a driving ban for Ow, while her lawyer asked for a fine.

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