SINGAPORE - He went on online shopping platform Taobao to buy replica guns, wanting to keep them for himself or resell them online.
A police investigation later found Tan Yan Rong with 19 replica guns and that he had sold at least 16 other similar weapons.
The 20-year-old was convicted on Friday (July 1) after he pleaded guilty to a charge under the Arms and Explosives Act. Another charge under the same Act will be taken into consideration during sentencing on Aug 10.
The court called for a report to assess the tertiary student's suitability for probation and also for one to assess his suitability for reformative training.
Offenders given reformative training will be detained in a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that can include foot drills as well as counselling.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra told the court that on Sept 7, 2020, at about 3.30pm, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) reported to the police that it had detected four sets of airsoft guns while conducting an operation at Lam Soon Industrial Building in Hillview Avenue.
In the course of investigations, a consignment note containing Tan's address was found along with three plastic toy rifles and a plastic toy revolver inside a container.
On the same day that ICA made the report, Tan was arrested on suspicion of having committed offences under the Arms and Explosives Act.
At about 10pm that day, the 19 replica guns were found in Tan's home and seized.
Among them were a plastic toy replica MP5 rifle and a plastic toy replica submachine gun, both of which are battery-operated and spring-powered, and capable of shooting 8mm water-absorbent pellets.
All 19 guns were assessed by ST Engineering Synthesis to be capable of shooting the pellets and thus are "arms" as defined in the Arms and Explosive Act, said Mr Suhas, adding that Tan was not authorised to possess them.
The DPP added: "The accused purchased such toy replica guns either to keep or to resell to local buyers via the online sales platform Carousell.
"If the latter, the accused would deliver the purchased items to the buyer in person, and accept cash on delivery or payment via PayNow."
Tan admitted to buying toy replica guns online from around 2018 or 2019 to a couple of weeks before his arrest.
Some records retrieved by investigators from his WeChat and Taobao logs showed that he had at least five customers from March to September 2020 to whom he had sold at least 16 toy replica guns and accompanying accessories.
Each gun was sold for between $100 and $620.
Tan was represented by lawyers Josephus Tan, Cory Wong and Josiah Zee from Invictus Law Corporation.
In their written mitigation plea, they said Tan is academically inclined and had done well in polytechnic. He was also invited to apply for early admission to Singapore Management University, which has offered a place for him to pursue a software engineering degree.
The lawyers added: "Admittedly, what Yan Rong had done is foolish. He had wanted to earn extra money to ease the financial burden on his parents.
"Unable to find a part-time job that suits his schedule without affecting his studies, he decided to do what he did and he now knows that what he did was wrong."
Tan can be jailed up to three years and fined up to $5,000.