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Engineering student admits detonating homemade bombs at East Coast Park

Engineering student admits detonating homemade bombs at East Coast Park

Beachgoers at East Coast Park on the evening of Jun 19, 2020. (File photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: A teenager who was interested in explosives started looking up how to make bombs online during the COVID-19 "circuit breaker".

He made two improvised pipe bombs and lit them up at East Coast Park in 2020, detonating one. No one was hurt in the incident.

The youth, now 19, pleaded guilty on Thursday (May 19) to four charges of making explosives without a licence, committing a rash act with a dangerous substance likely to cause hurt or injury to others, and abetting such an act

Another three charges will be considered for sentencing, which is set for June.

The youth cannot be named as he was under 18 at the time of the offences and therefore protected by the Children and Young Persons Act.

He is currently an aerospace engineering student in a polytechnic, and has received treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder. 

The youth previously told the court that he committed the offences because he liked to do "hands-on stuff", but realised "there's a right way and a wrong way to do it ... that's why I like engineering".

District Judge Kessler Soh ordered a report to assess the youth's suitability for probation, but did not rule out the option of more severe reformative training.

"You may like to tinker with things, experiment, but there's a right way to do it, as you said," the judge told the youth, stressing that he and his friends could have been injured.

SPARKLER AND PIPE BOMBS

The youth was already interested in explosives in April 2019, when he and a friend brought improvised sparkler bombs made by him to the beach at East Coast Park.

The youth asked his friend to light one of the sparkler bombs up and throw it into the sea. It detonated, emitting a series of flashes and a loud explosion.

The youth recorded this and posted the video on his Instagram account.

Between May and June 2020, he decided to make improvised pipe bombs and bought 200 boxes of matchsticks for this purpose.

After making two such bombs, on the evening of Jun 7, 2020, he and another friend went to a skate park at East Coast Park to try setting them off.

The youth brought along his two pipe bombs and several sparkler bombs. He first lit up the sparkler bombs, which produced flames but did not explode.

He then picked up one of the sparkler bombs and threw it towards a grass patch. This caused the bomb to explode on contact with the ground.

After that, the youth placed the two pipe bombs on the same grass patch and lit them, before running away.

One of the pipe bombs detonated, causing a loud explosion and emitting sparks. He recorded this and posted the video on his Instagram account.

He took home the other pipe bomb that did not detonate and disposed of it in the rubbish chute.

Police were alerted to these actions on Jun 19, 2020, when they received an online report that an Instagram user was posting photos and videos of homemade explosives.

They raided his home at 1am the next day and seized several materials used to make improvised pipe bombs.

The penalty for making explosives without a licence is up to three years' jail and a fine of up to S$10,000.

Those who commit a rash act with a dangerous substance or combustible matter likely to cause hurt or injury to another person, or abet such an act, can be jailed for up to one year, fined up to S$5,000 or both.

Source: CNA/dv(rw)

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