Man who tried to burn down Yishun flat after mother's nagging gets 5 years' jail

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Roslan was angry at his mother for having nagged at him the night before about his failure to take care of her. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

Upset over being nagged at by his mother, a 37-year-old man decided to burn down his family’s home.

Roslan, who goes by only one name, went about methodically setting fire to each room of the Yishun flat that he shared with his mother and younger brother.

The incident saw one resident of the block suffer smoke inhalations injuries and the cost of the resulting repair works amounted to nearly $31,000.

At the State Courts on Thursday (14 February), Roslan was sentenced to five years’ jail on one count of committing mischief by fire.

Angry over mother’s nagging

The court heard that on 7 September last year, Roslan’s younger brother accompanied their mother to see a doctor.

They met Roslan at the foot of their block, where the younger man informed Roslan where they were going.

Roslan was angry at his mother for having nagged at him the night before about his failure to take care of her. He then quickly returned to the flat with the intention of setting it on fire.

Inside the flat, Roslan opened his mother’s wardrobe and dumped cooking oil into it. He then set pages from a magazine on fire with a lighter before flinging them into the wardrobe.

Roslan then entered his younger brother’s room and started a fire in the latter’s wardrobe as well. He then poured cooking oil on the living room furniture, including a television console and two sofas.

After failing to set a sofa alight, Roslan left the flat as it was becoming smoky.

Block evacuated

Roslan’s next-door neighbour became aware of the fire at about 2.50pm. He tried to put it out and failed, then evacuated his family members from their home before calling the police.

The blaze led police and Singapore Civil Defence Force officers to evacuate all residents from the block. One 11th-floor resident later claimed to have difficulty breathing following the evacuation.

Upon returning and discovering her flat on fire, Roslan’s mother fainted and was taken to the hospital.

Police arrested Roslan at about 4.30pm after he surrendered himself.

Accused has personality disorder

Medical reports stated that Roslan’s mother’s medical bill came up to $171.81, while treatment for the 11th-floor resident, who suffered from smoke inhalation, cost the latter $121.

Roslan’s flat cost $17,110 to repair, while his neighbour’s unit incurred $12,590.80 in damages. Nee Soon Town Council also had to fork out $1,227.55 to restore the block.

The total cost of the damages amounted to $30,928.35 and no restitution has been made thus far.

According to court proceedings, Roslan was diagnosed by the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from anti-social personality disorder. He was also assessed to be at a moderate to high risk of recidivism.

Roslan also has a history of violence-related offences, including rioting in 2004.

Asked for ‘one more chance’

Deputy Public Prosecutor Charleston Teo pointed out that if not for Roslan’s neighbour, the fire might have spread and harmed his family members.

Roslan had also been determined to set the flat aflame, said the prosecution, which urged for at least five years’ jail for Roslan.

Addressing the court, Roslan asked for “one more chance” and a “light sentence” as he wanted to spend time with his mother.

“I was angry with my mother,” he told District Judge May Mesenas.

In reply, the judge said, “You could have burned down the flat and killed someone. This is not the way to act out. You need to go for treatment… you need to learn how to manage your emotions.”

For committing mischief by fire intending to cause the destruction of a building, Roslan could have been jailed for life, or jailed up to 10 years and fined.

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