Cyclist in East Coast road rage likely affected by brain tumour, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Cyclist in East Coast road rage likely affected by brain tumour

A cyclist who held onto a car bonnet during a row with a driver on East Coast Road on June 2, 2023, was diagnosed with brain tumour shortly after the incident, and the disease likely affected her behaviour, her lawyer said.

Nicolette Tan Shi-en, 32, who was employed as a lawyer at the time, pleaded guilty on April 17 to a charge of causing harassment to the driver, Elaine Michele Ow, 49.

Ow pleaded guilty on Feb 15 to one charge of committing a rash act endangering the safety of Tan. She will be sentenced on May 14.

Tan admitted to stopping her bicycle in front of the car, confronting Ow and opening a car door. A second charge of obstructing traffic will be taken into consideration for Tan’s sentencing on May 25.

Tan’s lawyer Mr Rajan Sanjiv Kumar told the court on April 17 – citing a psychiatrist’s report – that the onset of the tumour in the frontal region of his client’s brain had highly likely influenced her behaviour that day.

Mr Rajan, who sought a fine of no more than $2,000, said in mitigation that the location of the tumour may have caused his client to suffer from personality changes and impaired judgment.

But he acknowledged that the psychiatrist did not establish a definite causal relationship between the illness and Tan’s offending behaviour.

District Judge Janet Wang questioned if Tan’s psychiatrist had the expertise to draw such conclusions, adding that a neurologist would be better equipped to give an opinion on this issue.

The judge noted that Tan’s tumour, which has been removed, was benign.

Mr Rajan said he will seek an opinion from Tan’s neurologist on whether his client’s illness had a contributory link to her offences.

The court heard that Ow, a cooking instructor, was on her way to i12 Katong mall at around 3.10pm to teach a class when she overtook Tan, who was cycling, at the bend of Still Road to East Coast Road.

Tan felt Ow’s car was too close to her and said, “Excuse me, watch it!”

Tan caught up with Ow at a red light at the junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road to confront her.

Tan stood in front of Ow’s car, which was in the middle of three lanes. In video footage from the car camera shown in court, Tan can be heard asking why Ow had overtaken her on the bend.

Ow apologised to Tan, saying that she was late for her class and asked Tan why she was acting so aggressively.

Ow tried a few times to reverse her car and disengage, but Tan blocked her attempts by moving closer to the car.

Ow then tried to go left around the lawyer but came into contact with her bicycle. The pair got into another verbal exchange before Ow got out of her car to carry Tan’s bicycle to the side of the road.

When Ow tried to drive off, Tan jumped onto the bonnet of the car, holding on to the windscreen wiper.

At this point, the video played in court showed Ow muttering “okay” to herself, before driving off with Tan on the car bonnet.

As Ow drove for about 100m at a speed of around 20kmh, Tan pounded on the windscreen, screaming for Ow to stop.

Ow stopped the car when she reached the entrance of the shopping mall.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair sought a short detention order (SDO) for Tan, saying she started the confrontation.

Offenders given SDOs are jailed for a short time, but will not have a criminal record.

The DPP said: “Ow was unable to leave the situation. Tan could have taken Ow’s particulars, but instead she detained Ow.”

The defence said if the custodial threshold was crossed, the SDO should not be more than a day, which the prosecution did not object to.

For causing harassment, an offender can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to six months.

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