Ex-firefighter gets jail, caning for vandalism

Ex-firefighter gets jail, caning for vandalism
Qamarul admitted spraying purported anti-government graffiti on a pavement on Nov 5 last year.

A FORMER firefighter was sentenced to two months' jail and three strokes of the cane yesterday after he admitted spraying purported anti-government graffiti on a pavement.

Muhammad Qamarul Arifin Sa'adon, 23, was a full-time national serviceman at the time he wrote the words "WE ARE ONE WE ARE LEGION EXPECT US!!" outside Sunshine Plaza.

He was with four accomplices, three of whom are also alleged to have taken part in the vandalism on Nov 5 last year.

They were chatting at a bus stop when one of them said he had received a call from someone in Switzerland claiming to be a member of the "hacktivist" group, Anonymous. He said he was told to spray-paint a message backing its fight against the Singapore Government.

Qamarul went to buy spray paint and wrote the message, along with the logo of his friend's clothing line, as his accomplices kept watch nearby. A manager at the Prinsep Link complex later reported the graffiti to police.

Qamarul was the first among the group to plead guilty to the crime, and was also fined $500 on another charge of stealing a $48 pouch at a Beach Road food centre. Two other charges of vandalising a pillar and a taxi stand were taken into consideration.

Cases against his alleged accomplices - Danial Ryan Salleh, 25; Muhammad Fadzly Aziz, 21; Muhammad Redzwan Baskin, 26; and Muhammad Fitri Abu Kasim, 24 - are at the pre-trial conference stages.

Qamarul's lawyer, Mr K. R. Manicka, said his client comes from a structured family. "He has been found to be consistent in his performance and dedicated in his work," he said of his client, who has finished his national service with the Changi Fire Station.

The lawyer said Qamarul was sincerely remorseful for having brought shame to his family.

Citing aggravating factors, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wee Hao said the offences were pre-meditated and committed during a period of heightened fears about cyber security in Singapore. District Judge Ng Peng Hong agreed that a stiff sentence was warranted to signal that such acts could not be condoned.

This article was first published on August 8, 2014.
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