Man set fire to flats to settle debts

PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

A debtor turned harasser who used bicycle locks to chain the gates and set fire to Housing Board flats on behalf of a loan shark was sentenced to 3 1/2 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane yesterday.

Deliveryman Muhammad Jasni Mdet, 26, admitted to four of 11 charges of unlicensed moneylending harassment between Oct 13 and 15 last year.

He had defaulted on his loans and worked for a loan shark known as "Patrick'' to offset his debts. He was offered $300 per location that he "worked on".

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Wee Hao said Jasni had been involved in gambling and clubbing since he was 21 and borrowed more than $9,000 from licensed moneylenders to finance his lifestyle.

He also bought electrical appliances on instalment plans and chalked up more than $3,000 in fines for parking offences.

Jasni borrowed money from loan sharks including "Patrick" but was unable to pay them back.

"Patrick" then got him to be "a harasser", which entailed going to homes, locking the gates of the units with bicycle locks, and setting the doors on fire with petrol.

Between Oct 13 and 15, he drove his van to Sims Drive, Jalan Bukit Merah, Holland Drive and Toa Payoh to lock the gates of the units targeted and set fire to them. The occupants were in but no one was hurt.

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