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Singapore

Biomedical engineering student who took drugs, concocted explosive in flat gets jail, fine

SINGAPORE: A young man who concocted his own explosive at home was sentenced to 11 months' jail and a fine on Thursday (Sep 20).

Kang Chun How, who is now 23, was caught three years ago, after the Central Narcotics Bureau raided his home.

An assortment of items was uncovered from his Yishun flat, including an airsoft pistol, BB pellets, an electronic cigarette, bottles of chemicals and a toy gun.

Investigations revealed that Kang, who has a diploma in biomedical engineering, first started smoking "weed" when he was in Secondary 4.

He learnt how to smoke cannabis on the Internet, and smoked it once a week. A few days before his home was raided on Sep 16, 2015, Kang smoked weed along the corridor outside his home.

Kang had the airsoft pistol since 2012, investigations found, and kept it in his possession without a licence even though he knew it was an offence.

Of the several bottles found in his home, one bottle marked "R-Candy" contained potassium nitrate and sucrose. Based on an analysis by the Health Sciences Authority's forensic chemistry and physics laboratory, the substance was "very likely able to produce a practical effect by explosion or a pyrotechnic effect", the court heard.

Kang said he had the substance since 2012 and had made the concoction at his previous home in Bishan.

He learnt how to make the substance from the Internet. He also made Internet searches such as “how to make a sparkler rocket”, “KWA aluminium rocket valve” and “improvised weapon”.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan asked for a custodial sentence, drawing the court's attention to "the alarming rise in the consumption of cannabis amongst new drug abusers in recent years".

"Although the accused is of a relatively young age, the offences he committed are serious," said the prosecutor.

He added that Kang was found with a stash of prohibited items and with live ammunition, which is inherently dangerous.

"Given the obvious dangers surrounding the use of such weapons, the strict legal restrictions on the importation, possession and use of arms and security-related items are vital towards the maintenance of Singapore’s low crime rates and safe environment," said the prosecutor.

ACCUSED STARTED USING CANNABIS TO SLEEP BETTER: DEFENCE

Kang's defence lawyer Lee Wei Liang told the court that the items were "merely found" in Kang's house, and that he had "no intention to use them for any nefarious purpose".

Describing his client as a "curious person by nature from a young age", Mr Lee said Kang had a keen interest in chemistry and mechanical physics.

Kang was arrested seven months before he turned 21, Mr Lee said, and said he could have been dealt with as a young offender if he had been charged before turning 21.

Mr Lee said there were three traumatising events in Kang's life between 2012 and 2015.

His grandfather, whom he was close to, died in 2012, and his uncle died two years later. Kang grew to rely emotionally on his girlfriend, who eventually left him in early 2015.

After this, he began suffering from insomnia and had to repeat a module in polytechnic. He asked his acquaintances how to sleep better at night, and one of them suggested a cannabis mixture, referring him to a drug trafficker known only as Kevin.

Kang bought a small packet of the mixture for S$20 and found that he could sleep better.

He was diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder and insomnia disorder, Mr Lee said, although there was no causal connection between his psychiatric conditions and the offences.

Mr Lee asked for a fine for his client, who pleaded guilty to five charges under the Misuse of Drugs Act and Arms and Explosives Act.

District Judge Sandra Looi sentenced Kang to 11 months' jail and a fine of S$9,000.

She allowed him to defer his jail sentence for two weeks to settle his personal matters.

Source: CNA/ll/(hm)

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