Man who caused explosion that damaged 9 cars pleads guilty
Grab car driver was plagued by problems when he ignited butane gas in car
A Grab car driver who emptied cans of butane in his vehicle in an attempt to kill himself by gas inhalation ended up igniting the fuel.
This caused an explosion that damaged nine vehicles, including his own, a court heard yesterday.
Dwight T. Soriano, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of performing a rash act, one of mischief and four unrelated cheating offences. Twelve other counts for similar offences will be considered at sentencing.
The court heard that Soriano wanted to end his life as he was plagued by relationship and financial problems. He bought cans of flammable butane gas on April 26 and emptied the contents while sitting in his rented Nissan Dualis.
At about 6pm, he started feeling drowsy and drove to a multi-storey carpark at Block 290H, Bukit Batok Street 24. He was about to smoke a cigarette when a spark from his lighter ignited the butane gas, causing an explosion. The Nissan Dualis and eight other vehicles were damaged.
Soriano had taken similar risks involving flammable gas on April 11, the court heard. He was staying at a friend's apartment in Flora Road near Loyang Avenue when he felt depressed over unpaid loans and his failed relationship with his girlfriend.
While the friend was asleep at around 8am, Soriano pierced a hole in a rubber pipe that connected a liquefied petroleum gas tank to a stove and began inhaling the fumes. He then stopped and left the unit when he heard his friend coming out of his room.
The friend later replaced the damaged pipe when he detected the gas leak.
Besides these incidents, Soriano also admitted setting fire to a Chinese New Year decoration attached to the front door of his former girlfriend's Fernvale Link flat in Sengkang on Feb 17 to get her attention, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Derek Ee.
Soriano also cheated four men of $1,700 in total between February and April.
He had put up advertisements on online marketplace Carousell offering cars for rent. His victims paid him up to $500 in cash each, but the cars were not delivered and Soriano became uncontactable.
DPP Ee told the court that the explosion had caused public disquiet and called on District Judge Jasvender Kaur to sentence Soriano to at least two years' jail.
Soriano's pro bono lawyer, Ms Ariel Lim, pleaded for a maximum of nine months' jail.
She said her client committed the rash acts and was in a "highly unstable emotional state".
She added that an Institute of Mental Health report stated that Soriano was then moderately to severely depressed.
Soriano will be back in court on Jan 5.