Jail for man who caused fire at Ang Mo Kio police headquarters with cigarette butt

Ganesan Shanmugam was sentenced to 10 days' jail after pleading guilty to negligently causing a fire, on July 22, 2021.
Ganesan Shanmugam was sentenced to 10 days' jail after pleading guilty to negligently causing a fire, on July 22, 2021.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Thinking he had extinguished his cigarette butt, a man tossed it onto some rubbish when he was at the Ang Mo Kio Police Divisional Headquarters.

But the rubbish caught fire, causing more than $5,300 in damage.

Ganesan Shanmugam was on Thursday (July 22) sentenced to 10 days' jail after pleading guilty to negligently causing a fire.

The 30-year-old, who told the court that he serviced and repaired air-conditioner units, was at the ground level of the police headquarters on Jan 9 when he felt the urge to smoke.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sunil Nair said: "It was not convenient for the accused to go to an outdoor smoking area as it was raining heavily at the time. The accused decided to smoke outside the main switch room."

After Ganesan finished smoking at around 11.45pm, he threw the cigarette butt onto some rubbish without checking if it had been properly extinguished.

About 20 minutes later, a man told him that there was a fire where he had been smoking earlier.

The pair rushed to the spot and used fire extinguishers to put out the flames. They also cleaned up the area.

At around that time, a police officer detected the smell of something burning.

He searched the premises and checked closed-circuit television footage.

After he found the source, other police officers checked the area and found Ganesan and the other man cleaning the debris.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was activated and its officers determined that Ganesan's cigarette butt had caused the fire.

The Indian national, who was unrepresented, pleaded for a short jail term.

He told the court that he earned $800 a month and had been supporting his parents back home.

Ganesan was offered bail of $2,000 and ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on July 26 to begin serving his sentence.

For negligently causing a fire, an offender can be jailed for up to 18 months and fined.