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Jail for man who threw wine bottle that killed 73-year-old man in act of 'religious hostility'

Jail for man who threw wine bottle that killed 73-year-old man in act of 'religious hostility'

A view of 18 Spottiswoode Park Road. (Photo: Google Maps Street View)

SINGAPORE: A man who threw a wine bottle at a group of people from two floors above, striking and killing a 73-year-old man, was sentenced to five years and six months' jail on Friday (Apr 8).

Andrew Gosling, 49, told police that he wanted to startle the group, who were from the Malay-Muslim community. He pleaded guilty in February to two charges of causing death by a rash act and causing grievous hurt by a rash act.

Principal District Judge Victor Yeo said Gosling's actions could be viewed as demonstrating "religious hostility" towards the group and that he must be firmly dealt with.

He was sentenced to four years' jail for causing death by a rash act, and one year and six months' jail for causing grievous hurt by a rash act. The sentences were ordered to run consecutively.


On Aug 18, 2019, Gosling, an Australian national, drank beer with an acquaintance at lunch, before having two more bottles of beer at dinner. He drank another can of beer when he reached his apartment on the seventh floor of Spottiswoode 18 condominium in Tanjong Pagar.

The group was having a barbecue by the swimming pool on the fifth floor of the condominium. Gosling identified them as being from the Malay-Muslim community, as there were women wearing headscarves, the court heard previously. The elderly victim was part of the group.

Sometime after 8pm, he went to the rubbish chute at the lift lobby of the seventh floor, where he found an empty wine bottle about 30cm long.

Gosling threw the bottle at the group from the seventh floor. He also shouted religiously charged vulgarities before running back to his apartment.

The bottle struck the victim on his head, before ricocheting and hitting his wife on the shoulder.

The elderly victim collapsed to the ground and was unconscious. He suffered multiple skull fractures and extensive bleeding in his brain and died the next morning. The cause of death was determined to be head injuries.

Gosling admitted during police investigations that he had thought of using a weapon such as a gun to shoot the group, but dismissed this as a "heinous act".

The court had also heard that he was "angry and upset" at attacks committed by fundamentalist groups in Bali and Melbourne that had killed Australian citizens.

Gosling was assessed by a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health and found to have been intoxicated around the time of the offence. 

He has a past history of anxiety disorder, but no contributory link was found between his mental condition and the offence, the court heard previously.

A second report issued jointly with the defence's psychiatrist stated that Gosling was inebriated, but that the amount of alcohol was within his usual limits and not enough to remove his culpability for the offence.

The level of alcohol did contribute to the offence, the report stated, and Gosling experienced some impairment of judgment, but this did not affect his soundness of mind.

According to the report, he was prone to having "obsessive" negative thoughts in relation to Muslims when he was intoxicated, but this did not reflect his true feelings.


"Preserving and building inter-religious harmony in Singapore is sacrosanct and this could have a wider impact of causing unease among the broader Muslim community," said the judge.

It was necessary for the sentence imposed to dispel the unease and disquiet that could emanate from the offence, he said.

The judge also gave weight to the emotional and economic impact of Gosling's actions on the victim's wife to assess the ancillary harm caused.

The 69-year-old woman was also injured when the bottle hit her shoulder. She had been married to her husband for 45 years, and had four children with him, but was now living alone.

Before his death, the victim worked as a van driver for a delivery company and would give his wife S$600 for monthly expenses.

At an earlier hearing, the court heard that the widow felt a big loss, and even more so during the fasting month and family gatherings.

She also suffered flashbacks of the incident, the judge said.

The victim's family was present at the hearing in the State Courts on Friday. After the sentence, the victim's wife told reporters that she had no comment on the sentence and that "it's fate".

Her son told reporters: "It's hard to forgive, only time will heal this."

For causing death by a rash act, Gosling could have been jailed up to five years, fined or both. For causing grievous hurt by a rash act, he could have been jailed up to four years, fined up to S$10,000 or both.

Court records show Gosling has filed an appeal against the sentence.

Source: CNA/dv(mi)


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