SINGAPORE, May 20 — After researching explosives on the internet during the Covid-19 partial lockdown period, a youth used simple items he either bought or had at home to put together several improvised bombs.

He detonated some of them at East Coast Park and posted video clips on his Instagram account, which led to someone filing a police report. No one was injured by his actions.

On Thursday (May 19), the polytechnic student, now aged 19, pleaded guilty to:

• Two charges of manufacturing explosives without a licence

• One charge of exhibiting a rash act in relation to a dangerous or harmful substance

• One charge of abetting a rash act in relation to a dangerous or harmful substance

Three other similar charges will be taken into consideration for sentencing on June 30.

District Judge Kessler Soh called for a report to assess if the youth is suitable for probation, given his young age and lack of past criminal history.

He cannot be named by law because he was under 18 when he committed the offences. The Children and Young Persons Act bans the identification of such young offenders.

He had been treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the years leading up to his offences in 2019 and 2020, the court heard. He was a student at the Institute of Technical Education at the time.

What happened

In May 2020, Singapore was under a partial lockdown that restricted movements and activities to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The youth then began researching how to make explosives on the internet and watched videos on YouTube. He decided to construct improvised pipe bombs, having earlier made what was described in court as "sparkler bombs".

On June 7, 2020, he met two friends at East Coast Park where they planned to find a quiet spot to detonate the bombs. He rode his electric scooter there and the trio went to the vicinity of Skate Park along East Coast Parkway.

Between 8pm and 11pm, the youth detonated several of the sparkler bombs and pipe bombs. He placed them on a grass patch, lit their fuses and ran away before the bombs exploded.

He recorded the explosion on the grass patch, which his friends also witnessed, using his mobile phone.

One of the pipe bombs during the outing had not exploded, so he took it home and discarded it down the rubbish chute of the housing block where he lived.

Then he posted the video clip on his Instagram account.

Earlier in April 2019, he detonated two improvised sparkler bombs while at a beach area along East Coast Parkway. He placed one on a raised platform and told his friend to light it up and throw it towards the sea, which his friend did.

The youth recorded the explosion and posted another video on his Instagram account. The clip showed the device emitting a series of flashes and an explosion could be heard.

On June 19, 2020, a man made a police report, providing information about the incriminating Instagram account.

Police officers raided the youth’s flat several hours later and seized multiple items related to the construction of the homemade bombs. This included another pipe bomb that the youth had planned to detonate the next month.

Singapore Armed Forces' explosives ordnance disposal engineers later disposed of it in a safe manner.

‘I like to do hands-on stuff’

The youth — who was not represented by a lawyer — told the court last Friday that he was remorseful and just wanted to focus on his studies for the time being.

He added that he was pursuing aerospace engineering at a polytechnic.

“I like to do hands-on stuff, that’s why I did (what I did), but there is a right way and wrong to do it. That’s why I like engineering.”

District Judge Soh warned him that his actions were “something very dangerous” and that he and his friends could have been badly injured.

The judge added: “Thankfully, no injury was caused to anyone but I hope you realise by now that you should not be doing such things. You might like to tinker with things and experiment, but there is a right way to do it, as you said.”

The judge did not call for a suitability report for reformative training for now, but said that he would do so if it was necessary.

Reformative training is a regimented rehabilitation programme for offenders under 21 who commit relatively serious crimes.

Probation, a less severe punishment, is usually offered to first-time offenders aged between 16 and 21 and does not result in a criminal record. Probation also allows young offenders to continue with their education or employment while serving their sentences.

Those convicted of acting rashly or negligently with a dangerous or harmful substance, which is likely to hurt or injure others, can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to S$5,000 (about RM16,000).

Those who manufacture explosives without a licence can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to S$10,000. — TODAY