Driver in road rage case gets longer jail term of 7 weeks after appeal
A driver who beat up another motorist, then denied he was the assailant despite being caught on video, had his jail term lengthened to seven weeks after he appealed against his conviction and original five-week prison sentence.
High Court Justice Vincent Hoong also banned property agent Haleem Bathusa Abdul Rahim, 46, from driving for nine months.
The judge said on Wednesday that a longer jail term was warranted as Haleem had fled from the scene in the BMW he was driving despite the victim’s protests and a bystander’s attempt to block his exit.
The judge also said specific deterrence was a key consideration, given Haleem’s long history of not following traffic rules and his lack of remorse.
In 2012, Haleem failed to provide a breath sample after he was found to be smelling strongly of alcohol while driving. He acted aggressively and had to be subdued during arrest.
He has also had numerous composition fines for speeding between 1999 and 2020.
“Far from acknowledging his guilt after being caught by the closed-circuit television footage, the appellant has instead tried to paint the victim as a liar. The appellant fabricated a version of events where the victim assaulted him instead,” said the judge on the latest case.
In the early morning of Feb 1, 2020, Haleem was driving alone along the Bukit Timah Expressway towards the direction of his Hillview Rise home.
After he exited the expressway, he swerved out of his lane in front of a car driven by Mr Gabriel Heng.
After Mr Heng sounded his horn and flashed his headlight, both drivers exchanged words as they drove close to each other.
When they then stopped and got out of their cars, an altercation ensued.
At one point, the victim showed Haleem a document indicating that he had pending criminal cases.
The scuffle was witnessed by a security officer at the Hillview Community Centre. Surveillance footage from the community centre also captured the attack.
Haleem was seen punching the other driver twice. When the victim fell on his back, Haleem knelt over him and continued his assault.
Mr Heng got up and backed away, but lost his balance when Haleem hit him again.
As the victim tried again to move away, the assailant tried to kick him and elbow his head.
After a taxi driver arrived at the scene, Haleem drove off.
The victim, who suffered contusions on his hand, eyelid and nose, was given five days’ medical leave. Haleem did not seek medical treatment.
He was charged with causing hurt to Mr Heng, who died before the trial in unrelated circumstances.
Haleem denied assaulting the victim. He argued that Mr Heng had not identified him as the assailant, that the CCTV footage was too unclear to identify him, and that none of the prosecution’s witnesses could identify him as the assailant.
He maintained that Mr Heng was the aggressor, and that he merely acted in self-defence.
But Justice Hoong said it was clear that Haleem was the assailant depicted in the footage, and that his refusal to acknowledge that he was one of the drivers captured in the footage was patently incredulous.