2 teens who rioted in Singapore Boys' Home, attacked 3 staff members get reformative training

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
(File photo: Getty images)

SINGAPORE — They were inmates at the Singapore Boys’ Home who were planning to use floorball sticks to attack the staff there, with one of them suggesting using a broken badminton racket as a weapon.

When the riot police arrived, the teenage boys acted defiantly, singing and shouting loudly as they barricaded themselves.

Two of seven teenagers charged with rioting in the Singapore Boys’ Home were sentenced to 12 months' reformative training on Thursday (12 September).

Both 17-year-olds, who cannot be named, are the first in the group to be dealt with by the State Courts for the violent assault on three staff members during the incident in 2018. They each pleaded guilty to a rioting charge and two counts of vandalism in an earlier hearing.

Of the injuries sustained by the staff, one had the most serious condition with a permanent injury to his right eye.

During their sentencing, one of the teens fainted in the dock and had his head massaged by a woman. He stood up to receive his sentence after a short break.

Condemning the attack, District Judge Eddy Tham scolded the duo for "the degree of violence displayed, the audacity, the total lack of regard or respect for the law or authority".

"In a situation where you’ve been placed for rehabilitation, it’s clearly shocking to say you’ve all taken part in causing havoc…without any care or regard for anyone else."

Their behaviour must be “punished severely to send clear message that this would not be tolerated," he added.

The idea of the riot was sparked after the boys were placed on a lockdown punishment following a shouting match between inmates and remandees on 26 September last year.

The inmates were forbidden from leaving their dormitories apart from attending classes for the entire day.

Some of the angry youths discussed a plan to riot and decided on carrying out an “armour bang”, which refers to banging items and causing damage.

One teen also suggested breaking a badminton racket and using the ends to stab three of the Boys’ Home staff he disliked. He planned to take their staff passes and abscond from Boys’ Home. The plan was cancelled when the punishment concluded the next day.

On 28 September, the seven youths were in the courtyard when one of them informed of his intention to proceed with the "armour bang”. The group decided on rioting during assembly.

They then came up with a plan that involved luring one staff member close by starting a fake fight. One would then steal his pass for the rest to escape. They also decided on using floorball sticks as weapons against staff members and creating as much chaos as they could.

Later that day, around 5.50pm, the group carried out their plan in the courtyard. When the first staff member rushed in, he was assaulted. A second staff member tried to come to his aid but was also attacked.

When a third staff member drew his baton and shouted at the group to drop their weapons, the group turned on him. One inmate punched him until he let go of his baton. The victim’s face was bleeding when he and the other staff fled the scene.

The teens also wrecked property on level one of the Boys’ Home, including throwing water tanks to the ground, pulling down book shelves, and vandalising the courtyard with fire extinguishers.

They managed to use the staff pass to access level two and three of the Boys’ Home and wrecked havoc there as well, while freeing more inmates.

When the police arrived, the group retreated into the dormitories. They dismantled bed frames and stacked them against the dormitory gate. They then broke into song and shouted loudly while waiting for the police to apprehend them, according to court documents.

The three staff were conveyed to hospital. The first staff member sustained a head injury, spinal tenderness, bruises and a laceration. The second staff member had a minor head injury, neck strain and a bruise on his right elbow.

The third staff member sustained an injury to his right iris. The eye damage was likely to be permanent and he may require surgical correction in the future.

Commenting on the case, DJ Tham said that he trusted the authorities would have “taken a thorough review of the incident as to cause and consequences and taken remedial and effective measures to ensure such an incident (wouldn’t happen again).”

He noted the offenders’ young age and said that rehabilitation was still a viable prospect.

The cases against the remaining five teenagers are pending before the court.

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