3 weeks' jail for slingshot hobbyist who smashed windows of Hougang flats

Chan Fan Kheow picked up the hobby of shooting slingshots after seeing cheap listings on e-commerce site Taobao in 2019.
ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The 61-year-old slingshot hobbyist who practised shooting metal ball bearings at a carpark and missed, breaking the windows of nearby flats, was on Wednesday (April 13) sentenced to three weeks' jail.

Chan Fan Kheow had pleaded guilty on April 5 to one count of acting rashly to endanger the personal safety of others. Another count of possessing an offensive weapon was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

The court heard that he picked up the hobby of using slingshots - a prohibited item here - after seeing cheap listings on e-commerce site Taobao in 2019.

During a visit to China that year, he watched slingshot competitions and signed up for coaching sessions there, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Niranjan Ranjakunalan.

It deepened his interest and he purchased seven slingshots as well as several packs of metal ball bearings and pellets from Taobao between November 2019 and January 2020.

He practised shooting metal ball bearings at plastic bottles at the rooftop of a multi-storey carpark at Block 933 in Hougang near his home on Dec 25, 2019.

But Chan missed his targets and broke at least two windows in homes nearby, sending glass shards flying into the flats, which were located on the seventh and 12th floor, said the DPP.

He added though that Chan made full restitution of $310 to the residents.

The prosecution sought four to five weeks' jail for Chan, noting that similar cases before had led to imprisonment and that Chan's actions posed a risk to others.

Defence lawyer Justin Ng argued that Chan's case did not warrant a jail term as there were no victims harmed and he was easily found, but suggested a sentence of one day's jail at most if necessary.

In his verdict, District Judge Marvin Bay said it was unlikely that Chan was oblivious to the potential dangers of using the prohibited weapon given his extensive research into the hobby.

He added it was aggravating that Chan kept shooting despite missing, causing the occupants and flats to become an "involuntary backstop" to the shots missed.

Chan's jail term has been deferred till April 27 to allow him to settle personal matters and consider an appeal. The maximum penalty for committing a rash act to endanger the personal safety of others is a six-month jail term and a $2,500 fine.

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