Driver jailed for causing carpark blast

Dwight Soriano had wanted to end his life by inhaling gas as he was facing relationship and money problems.
Dwight Soriano had wanted to end his life by inhaling gas as he was facing relationship and money problems.

Spark from cigarette lighter ignited butane gas in his car, damaging nine vehicles

A Grab car driver who caused an explosion that damaged nine vehicles in a Bukit Batok carpark last year was jailed for 15 months yesterday.

Dwight Soriano, 32, had wanted to end his life by inhaling gas, as he was facing relationship and financial problems.

On April 26 last year, the Singaporean bought cans of flammable butane gas and emptied them while sitting in his rented Nissan Dualis.

Feeling drowsy, he drove to a multistorey carpark at Block 290H, Bukit Batok Street 24, at around 6pm. He was about to smoke a cigarette when a spark from his lighter ignited the butane gas, causing an explosion. The Nissan Dualis and eight other vehicles were damaged.

Soriano suffered extensive burn injuries to his upper body and hands. He was taken to the Singapore General Hospital, where he was arrested the next day.

About two weeks before this incident, Soriano was staying at a friend's apartment in Flora Road near Loyang Avenue when he felt depressed over unpaid loans and his failed relationship with his girlfriend.

He pierced a hole in a rubber pipe connecting a liquefied petroleum gas tank to a stove and began inhaling the fumes. He stopped and left the unit when he heard his friend coming out of his room. The friend later replaced the damaged pipe when he detected the gas leak.

Soriano also admitted setting fire to a Chinese New Year decoration attached to the front door of his former girlfriend's Fernvale Link flat in Sengkang last February.

He also cheated four men of $1,700 between February and April last year. He had put up advertisements on online marketplace Carousell, offering cars for rent. His victims paid him up to $500 each, but the cars were not delivered and Soriano became uncontactable.

Soriano's pro bono lawyer, Ms Ariel Lim, had earlier told the court that her client was in a "highly unstable emotional state" when he committed the rash acts.

She also said an Institute of Mental Health report stated that Soriano was then moderately to severely depressed.

On Dec 21 last year, Soriano pleaded guilty to two counts of performing a rash act, one of mischief and four unrelated cheating offences. Twelve other counts for similar offences were considered at sentencing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'Driver jailed for causing carpark blast'. Print Edition | Subscribe