A man collecting a debt was so angry with a father-and-son pair who owed him money that he wanted to firebomb their flat in Hougang.
But his plan failed when he threw a Molotov cocktail - a bottle of thinner with a burning tissue paper wick - into their flat and it landed on a bed, where it remained intact and the flames on the wick died out.
Lim Yan Hua, 24, was jailed for 3-1/2 years yesterday after pleading guilty to attempted mischief by fire, criminal trespass with theft and three drug-related offences.
One count of being in possession of a stun gun and two other drug-related charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that on Nov 4 last year, Lim went to his former landlady's Petir Road flat to collect his rental payment as his tenancy had been prematurely terminated. Court papers did not mention the reason behind the termination.
When Lim realised that no one was home, he went into the unlocked unit and stole items, including a $100 mobile phone and a computer monitor.
Nine days later, Lim went to the Hougang flat owned by a 57-year-old cleaner and his 19-year-old son at around 9.30am.
When no one responded after he banged on the front door, Lim used a rock to smash a glass window panel facing the common corridor. He then flung the Molotov cocktail through the broken window and left.
A neighbour, who had spotted him behaving suspiciously, notified the father when he returned home about an hour later.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Jocelyn Teo said: "When (the father) entered the unit, he discovered a 315ml bottle with a burnt tissue, which lay on the bed inside his bedroom.
"There were no burnt marks or damage to property caused by fire, except for the broken window."
The father alerted the police and officers arrested Lim on Nov 29.
A packet containing 0.66g of methamphetamine was found on Lim when the police searched him. The drug was also detected in his urine.
For attempted mischief by fire, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. For committing trespass with theft, he could also have been jailed for up to seven years.