Michael Fritsch, the head of T-Systems Singapore’s Asia Pacific business operations, has been called out by Singapore District Judge Lim Tse Haw for punching a taxi driver.
Judge Lim said a fine would not be appropriate for the 38-year-old Fritsch, whose conduct in the incident was “nothing short of deplorable”, as reported by The Straits Times.
The incident in question took place inside Low Chong Peng’s cab along Kim Seng Road at 0433 hours on May 17, 2015.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Teo Lu Jia said Fritsch and his friend had had many glasses of beer with a friend by the time they left Zouk around 0400 hours. Along Kim Seng Road, a couple approached Low’s cab at a queue for passengers. But before they could board it, Fritsch entered the car while his 41-year-old friend stood outside.
According to The Straits Times‘ court correspondent, Fritsch told Low to take him to Balestier. The driver refused and told him to get out of the car, saying that the couple had got to his taxi before him.
“The accused then replied that the victim should fetch him as he pays $40,000 in taxes to the Singapore government every year and he should therefore have the first priority,” said DPP Teo.
While Fritsch refused to get out of his vehicle, the cab driver finally agreed to take him – however, Fritsch refused to give him the details.
Low then turned around to inform Fritsch that he was calling the police, at which point Fritsch punched him before alighting. Fritsch was arrested five days later.
Judge Lim noted that the German executive used his high income to try and justify his act of offering the taxi driver double what he earned. “When the taxi driver refused to do so, you sat in the taxi. You refused to get out.”
He added even when the taxi driver finally agreed to ferry him, Fritsch made things difficult for him, leaving the driver with no choice but to call the police, as stated in The Straits Times report.
“I am of the view that the starting point for such a case is an imprisonment term of four weeks, but I am bringing down the prison term. I hope you have learnt your lesson in this incident and never ever to resort to violence against anyone, let alone a public transport worker. I am of the view that the custodial threshold has been crossed,” affirmed Judge Lim.
He sentenced Fritsch to 10 days’ jail for punching the cab driver, leaving him with a swelling on his forehead. He found found hardly any mitigating factors in the case, but noted his guilty plea, albeit late, his letter of apology and compensation to the taxi driver.
Last month, Fritsch paid Low S$1,675 in compensation and handed over a letter of apology. The maximum punishment for causing hurt is two years’ jail and a S$5,000 fine.
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