SINGAPORE — What started out as a bored, drunken prank turned into a blaze of fire that ravaged five motorcycles and one vehicle. On Wednesday, July 10, Loh Hsien Aik, the fire starter, was given a 2.5 year prison sentence for committing mischief by fire.
The incident happened on October 17, 2018. Loh Hsien Aik, 33 an unemployed man, was in an inebriated state, thanks to the several cans of beer that he had enjoyed. Bored and drunk, he saw a motorcycle at an open-air parking lot in Boon Lay and decided to use his lighter (he was a regular smoker) to set the motorcycle seat on fire.
His bored and drunken act of mischief soon got out of hand and turned into a much bigger problem (and a much bigger blaze).
Little did Loh know that the blaze would spread to four other motorcycles and a BMW car, and all except for one (which was charred on one side) suffered irreparable damage.
The details of the night were as follows: Loh was drunk and wandering around the car park at Block 221 Boon Lay Place, outside Boon Lay Shopping Centre. It was around 12:50a.m., and Loh was seized by the desire to play with fire, or more specifically, to set something alight.
Loh decided to set fire to the seat of a motorcycle that was parked there. He did so, and then turned and walked away. However, when he looked back at the motorcycle, he saw that the fire had grown and had begun to spread to other motorcycles parked next to the one he originally lit on fire. A BMW car parked there had caught fire as well.
Loh stayed close to the scene and watched the fire play out, but he did not at any moment alert the police or the fire department.
A man who was eating at a diner nearby saw the blaze and contacted the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who soon arrived on the scene as a total of six vehicles were on fire.
The SCDF immediately worked to put out the fire, which had become a relatively large blaze at this point in time.
Facebook user Kesh Kaajhuab Kanth captured and shared a video of the fire, which we have posted here below:
Posted by Kesh Kaajhuab Kanth on Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Of the six vehicles that caught fire, only one was salvageable. The rest were damaged beyond repair. The total damage caused by the fire amounted to S$103,244, and only about a third of the total — S$34,237 — was covered via insurance.
The next day, on October 18, 2018, Loh was arrested by the police.
Loh pleaded guilty to one charge of committing mischief by fire. District Judge Shaifuddin Saruwan took another charge of attempting to commit the same offence into consideration for Loh’s sentencing.
Anand Shankar Tiwari, Loh’s legal counsel, told the court that Loh did not mean anything bad by setting the motorcycle on fire. Tiwari said that Loh’s only reason for doing so was “only because he felt bored”.
“He did not act with any malice or ill intention … My client did not even imagine setting fire to the seat of a single motorcycle would lead to a fire that large,” said Tiwari.
Tiwari was after a two to six month jail sentence for Loh while Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra asked for a much longer jail sentence of 30 to 36 months’ prison time.
Malhotra’s reasons for pushing for a heftier jail sentence included the fact that Loh did not contact the police or the SCDF when he saw that the fire had spread and the “very extensive” damage the fire caused to the vehicles.
The penalty for committing mischief by fire is a fine as well as a jail sentence of up to seven years. In the case of Loh, whose boredom and drunken state of mind were given to pyromanic activities, District Judge Shaifuddin Saruwan delivered a sentence of 2.5 years in prison. /TISG