Youth who threw lit Molotov cocktail at neighbour's flat sentenced to reformative training

SINGAPORE - The young man who threw a lit Molotov cocktail at his neighbour's flat at the behest of a loan shark was sentenced to six months' reformative training on Thursday (Jan 3).

Lu Mingduo, 20, had earlier pleaded guilty to acting on behalf of a moneylender when he carried out the act 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 had threatened to harass Lu if he refused to do as he was told.

The loan shark, known only as "Sunny", had called Lu on his landline on Aug 7. Lu agreed to his orders in order to avoid being harassed himself.

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.

As fire and smoke filled the corridor, 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, court documents showed.

A 51-year-old neighbour had to be taken to the hospital after he collapsed while trying to escape his flat.

He suffered burn injuries on his arms, face and toes, as well as smoke inhalation injuries.

The restoration works to the Housing Board block following the blaze was estimated to cost more than $10,000.

In court on Thursday, 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 his graduation and his work, said the lawyer. Lu's occupation was not stated in court documents.

But District Judge Ong Hian Sun said he was not minded to call for a probation report, given the consequences of Lu's actions.

Lu will be appealing against his sentence, and is currently out on a bail of $20,000.