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Jail, whipping for arson

Fadley Faisal

A chef was sentenced to three years’ jail with six whippings after he pleaded guilty to setting his employer’s café on fire.

Intermediate Court Judge Hajah Hazarena binti Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Jaya Dato Paduka Haji Hurairah while handing judgement on March 14 said Awangku Muhammad Hafiz Dzulfadly bin Pengiran Hassanal Ariffin’s action were aggravated for risking the building occupants’ safety even though no one was injured.

The court also took into account the BND16,000 damage to Boss Café despite the fire being put out by automatic water sprinklers before it spreads.

The court heard the defendant’s lawyers Robin Cheok and Iman Hisham of Messrs Cheok Advocates and Solicitors’ plea for probation.

The defendant did not intend to hurt anyone as he started the fire when no one was around; started the fire under the sprinklers so that it would not spread; cooperated with the police; and was stressed by not being paid on time by his employer. His anxiety was supported by a Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital psychiatric report.

The defendant’s lawyers also submitted that he has an opportunity for reform with his skills as chef stating that the Youth Development Centre is willing to have him as culinary tutor as part of his probation and he has worked with another food business.

The court found the case aggravated by defendant’s premeditation by preparing kerosene the night before, caused inconvenience to the café owner and risked others’ lives.

The court sympathised with the defendant’s stress and condemned the café owner’s treatment of the defendant but said “this does not excuse the defendant’s actions”.

Prosecutor Syafina binti Abdul Hadzid said the 22-year-old defendant bought kerosene the night before the incident and brought it to the café in his car at 5am on January 14, 2021.

He wore layered clothing that concealed his identity and contemplated his action. He made up his mind and headed straight for the café.

The defendant poured kerosene in two places and set fire before leaving.

He then burned the extra layers of clothing with leftover kerosene and threw the remains into a river.

The defendant then returned to the café and acted innocent.

The police when checking the café’s CCTV footage recognised the defendant’s car licence plate.

Further investigations led to the police visiting the defendant at his house and brought to the police station for an interview where Awangku Muhammad Hafiz Dzulfadly admitted to the offence.

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