To pay off his debt to two loan sharks, a 31-year-old man harassed other debtors by splashing paint and, in several instances, by setting fire to their homes.
In total, he committed harassment at 22 units over a week-long period in June this year.
Yesterday, car polisher Mohamed Ashyik Mohamed Shawal was sentenced to five years' corrective training and 12 strokes of the cane for loan-shark harassment.
He admitted to 10 charges, including helping in unlicensed moneylending by handing over his ATM card, and drug consumption. He faced a total of 28 charges.
The court heard that besides working as a car polisher, he had a cleaning business on the side and hired three workers.
Some time at the end of May, he faced financial difficulties and could not pay his workers. He then borrowed from two loan sharks known as Marco and Denzel.
When he defaulted in his repayment , he worked for Marco to harass debtors, such as by splashing paint and securing their main gates with a bicycle chain lock.
He was promised $80 by Marco for splashing paint and writing graffiti, and $1,000 by Denzel to set fire and write loan-shark graffiti for every unit he harassed.
He found the offer tempting and agreed to work for them.
On June 12 - three days before his arrest - he used lighter fluid to set fire to the main gate of a Toh Guan Road flat on the 12th floor and the corridor outside. He also defaced the staircase landing wall with a marker pen, writing loan-shark graffiti.
Investigations showed that the occupant of the unit below had taken a loan from Denzel, and the unit occupant he harassed was innocent.
On June 9, he burned a piece of paper and placed it at the main gate of a flat in Boon Lay Drive over a debt owed by a former occupant.
That evening, he set fire to a Woodlands flat, and also to the corridor outside another unit.
The court heard that he harassed innocent victims in Serangoon, Admiralty and Tampines estates for Marco between June 12 and 14.
Ashyik has previous convictions for theft, vandalism, robbery and drug-related offences.