Driver in East Coast road rage incident pleads guilty, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Driver in East Coast road rage incident pleads guilty

A driver who was embroiled in an altercation with a cyclist at East Coast Road has pleaded guilty to one charge of committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of others.

On Feb 15, the case was adjourned to Mar 8 for mitigation and further submissions.

The court heard that Elaine Michele Ow, 49, had attempted to disengage several times during the altercation on Jun 2, 2023.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mark Chia said Ow, a cooking instructor, was on her way to i12 Katong shopping mall to teach a class when she overtook cyclist Nicolette Tan Shi-en at the bend of Still Road to East Coast Road.

In video footage from a camera fixed on the bike that was shown in court, Tan, 32, could be heard saying “Excuse me, watch it!”.

While coming to a stop at a red light at the junction of East Coast Road and Joo Chiat Road, Tan caught up to Ow’s car to confront her.

Tan, who was employed as a lawyer, then positioned herself in front of Ow’s car, which was in the middle of three lanes.

In video footage from Ow’s car camera shown in court, Tan can be heard asking why Ow had overtaken her on the bend.

The court also heard Ow apologise to Tan, adding that she was late for her class. Ow was also heard asking why Tan was acting so aggressively.

The videos showed Tan blocking multiple attempts by Ow to reverse her car and disengage.

Tan later moved to the right side of Ow’s car after Ow had apologised, and said: “Your behaviour is embarrassing”.

Ow then attempted to go left around the lawyer but came into contact with Tan’s 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.

As Ow returned to her car and tried to drive off, Tan continued to block the road with her body.

After nudging the car forward, the court saw Tan jump onto the bonnet of the car, holding on to the car’s windscreen wiper.

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

DPP Chia said Ow then drove about 100 metres at a speed of around 20kmh until she reached the entrance of the shopping mall.

Tan continued to hold on to the windscreen wiper even as Ow stopped the car, only letting go after coaxing from several passers-by.

DPP Chia said that motor vehicles must be driven responsibly or not at all, even if there was an antagonistic victim in this case.

The prosecution is seeking a short detention order (SDO) and disqualification from driving all classes of vehicles for Ow, leaving the period for both up to the court.

Offenders given SDOs are put behind bars for a short time, but will not have a criminal record after their release. 

Meanwhile, Tan’s charge over the purported rash act was withdrawn on Sep 7, 2023, and she was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for it.

This means she cannot be charged again with the same offence. The reasons behind the withdrawal of the charge were not disclosed in court.

Tan was instead charged with harassment on Sep 7, 2023. If convicted, she can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $5,000.

Tan’s case remains at the pre-trial conference stage.

For committing a rash act to endanger the safety of others, an offender can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $2,500.

For causing obstruction to others, an offender can be fined up to $1,000.