Australian involved in drunken tussle in Changi Airport jailed 6 months and 2 weeks
An Australian man whose drunken tussle with several police officers in Changi Airport earlier this year was caught on a viral video has been sentenced to six months and two weeks in jail.
Jason Peter Darragh, 44, pleaded guilty in the State Courts on Thursday (31 August) to four charges of voluntarily causing hurt and using criminal force to deter a public servant, using abusive words against a police officer and behaving aggressively while drunk in a public place.
Seven other charges were taken into consideration for his sentencing.
Darragh, who is divorced with two children, appeared in the dock bespectacled and in a white prison shirt. His parents had flown in from Australia for the hearing and were present in court.
Two of Darragh’s charges that he admitted to were for the incident that occurred at the airport on 20 April this year, when he was in Singapore for a stopover. During the altercation with the police officers, Darragh hurled expletives at them and tried to resist arrest.
One of the charges proceeded involved Darragh “causing annoyance” to a woman when he loitered around a taxi stand at Clarke Quay while he was drunk and placing his hand over his crotch on 1 May this year.
He also pleaded guilty to verbally abusing a police officer who brought him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital on 26 April, after he was found to be too drunk to take care of himself.
On 19 April, Darragh arrived in Changi Airport from Perth during a stopover flight, according to the statement of facts. He drank alcohol at the airport before going to Clarke Quay.
Darragh later returned to the airport in the evening to catch his next flight to Cebu. Just after midnight on 20 April, Darragh, who was drunk, could not find the check-in counter for his flight to the Philippine city. He asked Teh Gim Tuck, a member of the public, for directions to Terminal 2 and Teh showed him the way.
Darragh got agitated and hurled vulgarities at Teh, who then walked away. The Australian suddenly took Teh’s mobile phone from his back pocket and threw it on the floor before walking away.
Teh sought the help of the police at Terminal 2. Around 12.30am, a police officer spotted Darragh and engaged the Australian who became aggressive and shouted vulgarities at the officer.
A second officer later came into the scene of the incident and decided to arrest Darragh. The officer had to use a baton as the Australian was becoming violent. It was at this point that Darragh put on his earphones, danced about and taunted the two officers. During the altercation, Darragh hit the second officer on the face.
Even when four more officers joined in to help out in dealing with Darragh, the latter continued to resist arrest and yelled expletives. The officers then moved in to arrest Darragh.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jason Nim sought a sentence of at least eight months and two weeks.
Citing the need for a deterrent sentence, DPP Nim said Darragh had caused public fear and alarm. He added that the offence “took place at airport with heavy human traffic”.
The stand-off lasted for a considerable period of time and at least six officers were needed to subdue Darragh, DPP Nim told the court.
“(Darragh) verbally abused and threatened the police officers loudly. He challenged their authority and taunted them by dancing. (Darragh) subjected them to physical violence,” said DPP Nim.
S S Dhillon, Darragh’s lawyer, said his client was “not in proper control of his senses” after having drunk on the flight, at the airport and at Clarke Quay.
The incident arose out of a misunderstanding after he was brought by a taxi to the wrong airport terminal, said Dhillon. The lawyer added that his client only caused hurt to an officer after he was hit by a police baton several times.
Darragh has been treating his alcohol problem in Australia through therapy, the lawyer added.
During sentencing, District Judge Tan Jen Tse said there is a need to deter like-minded people from committing similar offences. Darragh went on to commit the offence at Clarke Quay on 1 May when he was out on bail for his earlier offences, DJ Tan added.