SINGAPORE: Two teenagers who took part in a riot at the Singapore Boys’ Home in retaliation to “lockdown” punishment were each sentenced to a year’s reformative training on Thursday (Sep 12).

Reformative training is a harsher punishment than probation as it results in a criminal record and detains offenders in a structured environment.

The two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named due to gag orders issued by the court, were part of a group of 11 boys accused of being involved in the riot.

The two teens were inmates at Singapore Boys’ Home in September last year and decided to plan a riot after they were placed on “lockdown” punishment for the entire day and were not allowed to leave their dormitories.

They had been punished for a shouting match between inmates and boys in remand at the home on Sep 26 last year.

Angry with the penalty, a group of inmates, including the accused, discussed carrying out “armour bang”, a term referring to banging items in dormitories and causing damage.

One of the boys also suggested breaking a badminton racket and using the sharp end to stab three of the boys’ home staff whom he disliked.

After some changes to the plan, the boys agreed to carry out only the “armour bang” plan. It involved a fake fight, a riot, theft of a staff member’s pass for all of them to escape, and the use of floorball sticks as weapons.

They agreed to create “as much chaos and destroy as many properties” at the home as possible, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Timotheus Koh and Grace Chua.

PLAN SET IN MOTION WITH FAKE FIGHT

The boys put their plan into motion on Sep 28, 2018. Two of them started a fake fight in the courtyard. When a youth guidance officer rushed forward to separate them, one of the boys punched him in the face.

Several other boys joined in the fight, grabbing floorball sticks, flinging punches at the officer, kicking his head and stomping on him.

An assistant manager at the home tried to help the youth guidance officer, but was punched on the face multiple times and hit on the head with a floorball stick. 

An auxiliary police officer at the scene tried to help as well, drawing his baton and shouting at the boys to drop their weapons.

The boys descended on the police officer instead, punching and kicking him to the ground, before hitting him on the head with a floorball stick.

The police officer fled the scene, bleeding from his face.

CHAOS AND DESTRUCTION

The boys also damaged property, overturning a foosball table, throwing water tanks to the ground, breaking a television at a multi-purpose hall, as well as smashing glass panels to retrieve fire extinguishers and spraying its contents in the courtyard.

One of the boys got hold of the youth officer’s staff pass and called to the others in the group, using it to access the second level of the home.

They ran along the corridor, with one of them shouting “riot, riot”, planning to recruit as many as possible to increase the scale of chaos and damage, said the prosecution.

With the staff pass, they unlocked other dormitories on the second floor and freed two other boys from their dorms.

In the wake of their destruction, they broke fans, overturned laundry baskets and sprayed soap along the corridor.

The total damage at the Singapore Boys’ Home amounted to about S$10,642, the court heard.

SANG, SHOUTED LOUDLY WHILE WAITING FOR POLICE

The police arrived and some of the boys retreated into dorms while others dismantled bed frames and stacked them up against a gate to hinder entry.

The closed-circuit television camera in that area was smashed and the group used colour pencils to draw on the walls before breaking into song and shouting loudly while waiting to be arrested.

The victims were taken to hospital and the youth guidance officer had multiple bruises on his head, tenderness on his spine as well as an abrasion and laceration.

The assistant manager suffered a minor head injury, a strained neck and a bruise on his elbow, while the auxiliary police officer had injuries to his eye and bruises on his head and face.

He also suffered traumatic iridodialysis, where blunt force ruptures the iris in the eye. This condition is likely to be permanent.

The two boys had pleaded guilty to being members of an unlawful assembly, with a common objective to voluntarily cause hurt to the victims and to commit vandalism.

Both the boys had nothing to say in mitigation and one of them fainted in the dock during proceedings.

District Judge Eddy Tham said it was “clearly shocking” that they had taken part in causing havoc, pointing out their “audacity” and “total lack of regard or respect for the law or authority”.

“What is really unfortunate and inexcusable is the serious and likely permanent injury to the eye of the victim,” said the judge. “Such behaviour must be punished severely to send a clear message that this would not be tolerated.”

He said such actions would have drawn mandatory caning and imprisonment terms in an adult court, but maintained that there was still room for rehabilitation in view of their youth.