Flat set ablaze by Molotov cocktail: Youth gets reformative training

A young man who acted for a loan shark and threw a Molotov cocktail at a flat was sentenced to six months' reformative training yesterday.

Lu Mingduo, 20, had earlier pleaded guilty to acting on behalf of a moneylender when he carried out the deed on Aug 8 last year.

Reformative training is meant for those between 14 and 21 years old. It involves young offenders being detained in a structured environment for at least six months.

According to court documents, an unlicensed loan shark known only as "Sunny", had called Lu on Aug 7, and threatened to harass him if he did not heed his orders. Under the loan shark's instructions, Lu prepared a Molotov cocktail - a bottle of paint thinner with a towel stuffed within - and threw it at a Jurong West flat that the loan shark claimed was a debtor's home. Lu lives in a neighbouring unit.

The cocktail caused a nearby stationary electric bicycle to catch fire and explode.

The debtor's 64-year-old father and 13-year-old sister had to climb out of the master bedroom window and stand on a ledge to escape the blaze. They were later rescued by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

A 51-year-old neighbour suffered burn injuries on his arms, face and toes, and smoke inhalation injuries.

Restoration works to the damaged Housing Board block was said to cost more than $10,000.

In court yesterday, Lu's defence counsel Thomas Tan asked for a probation report to be called instead to assess his suitability for probation. A reformative training sentence would disrupt Lu's graduation and his work, he said. Lu's occupation was not stated in court papers.

District Judge Ong Hian Sun did not accede to the defence counsel's call, given the consequences of Lu's actions. Lu will be appealing against his sentence, and is currently out on bail of $20,000.

Cara Wong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2019, with the headline 'Flat set ablaze by Molotov cocktail: Youth gets reformative training'. Print Edition | Subscribe