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Arsonist allowed reduced jail time, caning sentence unchanged

Fadley Faisal

The Court of Appeal on November 24 reduced an arsonist’s jail term, but did not revise canings as the court holds no power to interfere with it.

Muhammad Amir bin Haji Johara pleaded guilty to setting fire to a store room of his parents’ house at Jalan Kecil Lampaki, Mukim Sengkurong on December 5, 2020.

He was sentenced to nine years’ jail with six whippings by the High Court on December 31, 2020.

Despite in observation of the aggravating factors and seriousness of the case, Court of Appeal President Justice Michael Peter Burrell, assisted by Justices Michael Lunn and Conrad Seagroatt, saw that the resulting jail sentence was too high and revised it to six years and eight months, while not interfering with the six canings already handed by the High Court, although thinking that more could have been handed.

At the start of the appeal being filed, the appellate court also ordered for a psychiatric report to be produced at the appeals and was satisfied that it showed that the appellant had no underlying mental disorder. DPP Rozaimah Abdul Rahman assisted the court in responding to the appeal.

It was revealed that on the day of the incident, the appellant was alone at his parents’ house. The defendant called his father and asked for BND10 which was denied. The rejection angered the defendant.

Driven by anger, he took a bottle of cordial syrup and threw it at a cabinet, breaking the glass. He lit a newspaper on fire and threw it into the store room.

The defendant left the house and drove his car hastily, which caught the neighbour’s attention.

The neighbour caught a glimpse of the car driving away from the house, and saw smoke bellowing out of the house while a neighbour’s maid was screaming.

The neighbour called the Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) and informed the owner that his house was on fire.

The fire was doused and the neighbour’s statement recorded leading to the defendant’s arrest the same evening. The FRD reported that the victim sustained BND20,000 in damages due to the fire.


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