Man who locked ex-GF's fiance in flat and started fire outside on their wedding day jailed for 6 months

Jessie Lim
The Straits Times
December 9, 2022

Filled with anger and jealousy when he found out that his former girlfriend was getting married, a man started a fire outside the Housing Board flat where her fiance lived.

On Friday, Surenthiran Sugumaran, 30, was sentenced to six months’ jail. 

He was convicted in October after he pleaded guilty to one charge of committing mischief by fire, knowing that he was likely to cause damage to property.

On March 11, he found out through an Instagram post that his former girlfriend was getting married to Mr Mohammad Azli Mohammad Salleh the following day.

Surenthiran decided to lock the front gate of the man’s flat and start a fire to cause inconvenience to Mr Azli before his wedding ceremony.

At or around 3.35am on March 12, Surenthiran left home with an empty 1.5 litre bottle, a bicycle lock and a lighter. He filled the bottle with petrol from his motorcycle.

Clad in a black hoodie, which he later used to cover his face to avoid detection by closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, he arrived at the victim’s block, taking a lift to the 12th storey and the stairs to the 13th storey.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Bharat S. Punjabi said in October that Surenthiran took this route to further evade CCTV scrutiny.

After starting the fire, Surenthiran walked down to the 12th storey and took the lift to the ground floor. He threw the lighter into some bushes before returning home.

When Mr Azli opened his unit door at 8.22am and found his front gate locked and several shoes burnt, he called the police.

The fire damaged property, including two pairs of Nike shoes, with an estimated value of $410 in total.

Court documents did not say how Surenthiran was caught.

DPP Bharat added: “While the damage caused was not extensive, there was clear endangerment to lives as the fire was right outside the victim’s unit and within a residential block. The use of an accelerant in the form of petrol also aggravates the potential harm that could have been caused.”

On Friday, District Judge Eugene Teo said in sentencing that “such offences are very dangerous for the occupants in the flat”.

“I have to take into account the circumstances in which you planned out these offences, including the fact that you also locked up the premises and the purpose for which you committed these series of acts.”

Those who commit mischief by fire intending to cause or knowing it will likely cause damage to property can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.