Indian cabbie ran over fare evader, fled scene: court told

Baljeet Singh took to the footpath in his cab at suburban Woodville Gardens in April last year as he chased a group of teenagers who had run off rather than pay the fare of 20 dollars.

The cab collided with 15-year Dung Tran, who later had his right leg amputated below the knee.

The prosecution told the court that Singh was callous in leaving the scene of the crash, media reports here said.
Singh has since pleaded guilty to causing harm by dangerous driving and leaving the scene of a crash.

Singh told the court through his lawyer that he mounted the footpath in a bid to block his victim's escape. The defence urged a suspended sentence saying Singh did not know his victim was injured, but the prosecution said he must have known.

In sentencing submissions in the South Australian District Court today, prosecutor Carmen Matteo said Singh would have known the boy was injured with the collision also damaging his cab and a brick wall. "Leaving the scene was a particularly callous act," she said.

Matteo said his driving was an utterly inappropriate means of pursuing his fare and urged Judge Rauf Soulio to impose an immediate prison sentence.

Defence counsel Jane Basheer, on the other hand, said Singh's crime was one of youth and inexperience.

Basheer said he made two impulsive and serious errors of judgement in trying to use his cab to block the path of the teenagers and in failing to ensure the victim was not hurt.
Basheer urged the judge to impose a suspended sentence and pointed out that Singh had also missed out on the chance to wed his long-time girlfriend in India because of the case.

His girlfriend's parents had arranged another match for the girl who was forced into an arranged marriage while he was in Australia facing the charges.
In a statement read to the court, the 15-year-old victim said he was ashamed about what he had done and had accepted his injury and the limitations it placed on his life.
"What's done is done," the injured teenager said.

Basheer said if the victim was willing, Singh would like to meet him to offer a personal apology.

Soulio said he would delay sentencing to allow the victim to consider a meeting.
Singh had not told his parents in India about the offences because of the shame it would bring his family, the court was told.
The case will return to court in October.

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