To avoid detection when he set fire to people's flats, he wore masks and even crawled past a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera. But deliveryman Muhammad Jasni Mdet, 26, was still caught. Yesterday, he was sentenced to 3½ year's jail and given 12 strokes of the cane for unlicensed moneylending (UML) harassment.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to four of 11 charges of UML harassment, with the rest of the charges taken into consideration during sentencing.
His troubles began about five years ago when he got involved in clubbing and gambling.
To finance his lifestyle, Jasni borrowed more than $9,000 from licensed moneylenders.
He also bought several electronicitems on instalment plans.
In December 2014, he committed parking offences, which resulted in over $3,000 worth of fines.
So Jasni turned to an unlicensed moneylender known only as "Patrick", who lent him $300, with $240 to be repaid every fortnight.
"Patrick" also recommended another unlicensed moneylender, "Jack", who would lend Jasni another $300 with similar repayment terms.
Jasni now had $600, and would have to repay $480 every two weeks.
In October 2015, he only managed to make the first repayment of $480, defaulting on the rest.
On Oct 9 last year, "Patrick" told Jasni he could work as a harasser.
Jasni agreed to lock the gates of the units with bicycle locks and set fire to them. For each "job", he would be paid $300.
That evening, he bought bicycle locks and an empty petrol bottle to store the petrol that he would use. He also filled a 1.5-litre bottle with petrol.
Between Oct 13 and Oct 15 last year, Jasni targeted at least four flats in Sims Drive, Jalan Bukit Merah, Holland Drive and Toa Payoh Lorong 1.
Locking the gates using the bicycle lock, he poured petrol on the doors, set fire to them and sent pictures of the fires to "Patrick".
At Block 98, Toa Payoh Lorong 1, Jasni noticed that the block was very open and he could be spotted.
So he put on a face mask and went to the second-storey unit he was targeting.
Worried that someone in the opposite block might see him, he crawled along the corridor to his destination.
Jasni could have been jailed up to five years and fined up to $50,000 for each charge.
This article was first published on Jan 27, 2016.
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