Preventive detention and caning for man who threw Molotov cocktail at policeman

Lai Yew Han threw a Molotov cocktail at a policeman on March 27, 2016.
Lai Yew Han threw a Molotov cocktail at a policeman on March 27, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An unemployed man was sentenced to seven years' preventive detention with three strokes of the cane on Friday (July 28) after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a policeman.

No one was injured in the incident as the Molotov cocktail - a bottle of flammable liquid with a burning cloth wick - hit the officer's shield before bursting into flames.

On July 7 following a three-day trial, Lai Yew Han, now 37, was convicted of one count of attempting to cause grievous hurt to the policeman and four counts of criminally intimidating other officers.

Preventive detention, which can last from seven to 20 years, is reserved for recalcitrant offenders. They must serve the full sentence with no reduction for good behaviour.

The court heard he was jailed for two years and ordered to receive two strokes of the cane for drug trafficking in 2004.

Five years later, he was jailed for 21 months for assault.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wen Hsien said in the prosecution's submissions that at around 5pm on March 27 last year, police received a 999 call after members of the public complained of smoke coming from a rubbish chute at Block 66 Marine Drive.

Station Inspector (SI) Foo Chuen Chong arrived at the scene and went to Lai's flat on the second storey.

Through a window, Lai told the officer that he had made heroin and "Ice", or methamphetamine, inside his home.

SI Foo walked away to alert his operations room and when he later approached the unit, Lai pushed a coffee table against the gate to prevent him from entering.

DPP Tan said: "The accused then went to a room and retrieved a clear bottle containing an unknown liquid, corked with a piece of white cloth. There was also a saucer with a lit flame.

"As the accused held these items in his hand, he uttered threatening words...to (SI Foo) in a mix of Hokkien and Mandarin...which meant, 'If you all try to enter by force, I will perish together with all of you'."

Fearing that Lai would throw the items at him, SI Foo went down to the void deck.

He made similar threats when Inspector Royce Kiang Heng Hui went to the flat at around 6.45pm that day.

At around 4pm on May 28 last year, police received another 999 call, with a message stating: "My brother (has) gone crazy. Can you come."

Staff Sergeant (Sgt) Muhammad Shaiful Rizal Ibrahim and Sgt Guay Zheng Xiong arrived at the scene, which turned out to be Lai's flat. He threatened the police with a Molotov cocktail yet again when he saw them.

Sgt Daniel Kwok Wei Jie later arrived at the flat and he was the only Divisional Tactical Team officer present trained to use a shield.

As he moved in with the shield, he saw Lai lighting the Molotov cocktail.

DPP Tan said: "The accused then threw the bottle directly at his shield. The bottle directly impacted the lower part of the shield... and a burst of flames resulted. (Sgt Kwok) threw the shield and moved to his left side to avoid the burst of flames. Later on, he took another shield, went into the unit and placed the accused under arrest immediately."

In his defence during the trial, Lai, who was unrepresented, accused the police of trying to "set him up".

Claiming the incident was an "unfortunate misadventure" and an "accident", he also said that he wanted to throw the bottle outside the flat but the police were in the way.

Before handing out the sentence on Friday, District Judge John Ng said it was clear that Lai was a "menace" to the safety and security of those around him.

Lai told the court that the prosecution was "corrupted" and added he would be appealing his case.