Man gets jail for setting fire that sparked Toa Payoh block evacuation, cost S$33,000 in repairs

Man gets jail for setting fire that sparked Toa Payoh block evacuation, cost S$33,000 in repairs

Toa Payoh blaze
Workers repairing the gas pipe that was damaged from a fire that broke out at the void deck of Block 14A along Toa Payoh Lorong 7. (Photo: Najeer Yusof/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: A man was sentenced to three years' jail on Tuesday (Nov 5) for setting a fire at a void deck that spread, prompting an evacuation.

The blaze, which he started with a lighter, "seriously damaged" the block and led to repairs that cost about S$33,000.

Jamil Kamis, 63, was found guilty of one count of mischief by fire after a trial.

He had been smoking at Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh in the early morning of Jun 20, 2017, when he set alight a mattress that was placed among some discarded items.

About 50 people were evacuated from the second to sixth floors, and one woman was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

READ: 1 injured, 50 evacuated from Toa Payoh HDB block after fire at void deck

Based on closed-circuit television footage, Jamil was the only one at the scene moments before the fire began.

Knowing that he had sparked it, he ran back up to his flat when he saw Singapore Civil Defence Force officers battling the flames. 

He denied being at the block or knowing about the fire when confronted by police.

When interviewed by the police, he first said he was at home, and admitted to smoking at the block only when shown CCTV footage.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jotham Tay asked for at least three years' jail based on similar cases. 

He pointed out Jamil's list of previous convictions starting with theft from when he was a teenager, with the heftiest jail term meted out for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The defence highlighted that Jamil lives in a two-room rental flat and suffers from several health issues including diabetes, a heart condition and kidney problems.

The judge agreed with the prosecution, and the defence said her client intends to appeal against conviction and sentence.

He granted Jamil bail pending appeal.

For mischief by fire, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Source: CNA/ll(hm)

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