SINGAPORE — Angered that a taxi driver had gone the wrong way and dropped his credit card, a drunk passenger cursed him and rained punches on his face.
Buckley Eugene Gerrard, 59, was jailed for 30 weeks on Friday (29 January) for his attack on the 60-year-old taxi driver.
The New Zealand national pleaded guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt, after he fractured the cabby’s nose in addition to bruising his eyes and chipping his right front tooth. He admitted to one count each of causing mischief and insulting a public service worker, both of which were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
On 26 February last year, Buckley, who is unemployed, went to a pub at Orchard Towers and had multiple bottles of beer. He moved to other pubs and drank more alcohol, becoming heavily intoxicated.
He took a cab with an unknown woman at the taxi stand of Orchard Towers at about 3am the next morning. Just as his taxi neared Stevens Close, where Buckley was headed, the cabby missed the turn, exasperating Buckley, who said, “f**k, you went the wrong way” and “you i***t, you overshot the location”.
The cabby then stopped the taxi at Dalvey Road, at Buckley’s request. As the cabby checked for the fare, Buckley uttered more expletives and mumbled that he had driven the wrong way. In response, the cabby told Buckley not to scold him.
Buckley then went to the front passenger seat to hand the cabby his credit card, which the latter dropped near his leg.
Angered, Buckley rained punches on the cabby’s face. The cabby tried to fend off the punches and began bleeding from lacerations on his face and his nose.
Later, Buckley tried to offer compensation to the cabby, but the latter said he wanted to report the matter to the police. However, Buckley took the cabby’s mobile phone and threw it away.
The cabby then sought help from other road users, and a 43-year-old male passerby responded. As Buckley tried to leave for his unit at Stevens Close, the cabby held onto his bag and Buckley threatened to punch him again.
Buckley later went to his unit, claiming he had to use the restroom. By this point, the unknown woman had left the scene. The passerby eventually called the police and the taxi driver was conveyed to hospital.
The taxi driver was found with lacerations over his face, and bruises, along with a chipped tooth. An X-ray showed that his nasal bone was fractured. He was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist and dental clinic for follow up.
After he was discharged from the hospital, the cabby recovered his cracked mobile phone from the location.
The cabby’s medical bills amounted to $192.80 and Buckley has fully restituted him.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Lim sought eight months’ jail while Buckley’s lawyer Andre Jumabhoy asked for six months’ jail.
Mitigating for his client, Jumabhoy said Buckley came to Singapore in 2017 in search for work, after being involved in the fintech industry.
Though Buckley was initially successful in his employment, he later became unemployed and became increasingly anxious about his future. He was also separated from his female partner in Macau due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The evening before he offended, Buckley had gone out intending to attend a yoga class but had entered a pub instead. After he left the pub, he experienced breathing difficulties, which caused him to panic slightly, said Jumabhoy.
Buckley was slightly disorientated when he woke up in the taxi and was upset about his location, which caused him to react the way he did, the lawyer added.
“(The) incident was short lived and started because he took the erroneous belief that the taxi driver threw the card,” he added.
“For Buckley this is a deeply regretful and embarrassing incident. He is 59 years old and certainly does not want to be remembered for having engaged in this behaviour. The fact that he has not done anything (similar) in his life suggests that this is an aberration at best.”
Buckley will leave Singapore once his sentence is finished to reunite with his partner, who has a suspected medical condition at the moment. Buckley also intends to be with his daughter after she graduates from university on 24 March.
For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Buckley could have been jailed up to 10 years, and fined or caned.
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