SINGAPORE: A 51-year-old man was fined S$2,000 on Tuesday (Mar 15) for pushing and hurling vulgarities at a taxi driver while unmasked and appearing drunk.
Francis Dion James, an engineer, pleaded guilty to one charge of using insulting words towards a public service worker.
Two more charges of failing to wear a mask and causing annoyance while drunk in a public place were taken into consideration.
His lawyer, Ms Cheryl Sim, told the court that her client had gone for counselling and reflected on his behaviour in the incident. The Australian citizen has decided to give up alcohol forever and remain sober, she said.
On Jun 4 last year at about 8.55pm, the victim was at Asia Square Tower 1 waiting for a passenger who had booked his taxi.
James boarded the vehicle, but the driver realised that he was not the passenger who had made the booking.
The driver asked James to alight but he refused. At that point, the actual passenger cancelled his taxi booking.
The driver called the police as he was unable to manage the situation, stated court documents. He told them: “I got a drunkard in my taxi. He is not supposed to be inside as he did not book the taxi.”
While the driver waited for the police, James kept pushing him and repeatedly hurled vulgarities at him.
When police officers arrived and spoke to James, he was not compliant. He was observed to have an unstable gait and flushed face, and reek strongly of alcohol.
Subsequent investigations showed that he was captured on CCTV footage not wearing a mask over his nose and mouth at the location of the incident.
In mitigation, Ms Sim said her client was deeply remorseful for the incident.
The court proceedings had been a “trying time” for him, as he had to forgo employment opportunities and also missed family events like the birth of his granddaughter, she said.
James has since made compensation to the victim. He also met the victim in person and handed him a handwritten apology, she said.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chee Ee Ling confirmed that the victim has accepted James’ apology and forgiven him.
For using insulting words towards a public service worker, James could have been jailed up to 12 months, fined up to S$5,000 or both.