SINGAPORE — When Chan Fan Kheow became interested in slingshots, he tried to hone his skills by shooting lead shot and metal ball bearings at plastic bottles on the roof of a multi-storey car park in Hougang.
However, sometimes the bottles were completely missing and the projectiles would hit the windows of neighboring Housing and Development Board (HDB) apartments instead.
Chan was caught when authorities reviewed police camera footage of apartment buildings in the area and spotted him pulling a slingshot from his pocket while waiting for an elevator.
On Tuesday, April 5, the 61-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of committing a reckless act endangering the personal safety of others.
Another charge of carrying an offensive weapon in public will be considered for sentencing next week.
Singapore prohibits the possession and import of slingshots.
The court heard that Chan started using slingshots in November 2019 when he noticed online marketplace Taobao offering them for sale at low prices and buying them from the online retailer.
He then traveled to Guangzhou, China for a business trip where he observed slingshot competitions and decided to attend coaching sessions.
He ended up buying seven slingshots and several packets of marbles, colored pellets, as well as metal ball bearings of various sizes.
He began by practicing hitting improvised targets in his own apartment. Soon after, he started practicing on the roof of the multi-storey parking lot at block 933 Hougang Avenue 9.
His routine was to place several plastic bottles on the ground and the ledge of the roof, before standing some distance away and firing pellets and bearings at the bottles with his slingshot. He often aimed in the direction of nearby block 923.
On December 25, 2019, one of the metal ball bearings hit a glass panel in the living room of an apartment in block 923. The force left a crack and a small hole in the window.
The occupier made a police report later that evening saying a “very rounded shard of glass” had fallen from his window into the house.
On January 12, 2020, Chan again trained with his slingshot. One of the metal ball bearings again hit the window of a bedroom in another apartment in block 923, leaving a hole the size of a nickel.
The occupant also made a police report.
The next day, police found nine metal ball bearings strewn across the roof of the parking lot. They also looked at police camera footage and saw Chan pull a slingshot from his pocket.
He was arrested three days later. In May last year, he paid the victims S$310 in full for their damaged windows.
A report by the Health Sciences Authority said Chan’s medium and large ball bearings could damage the windows of units Chan was shooting from.
Its ball bearings could also cause eye injuries if they hit someone standing in front of an open window in the victims’ units, the report adds.
Prosecution seeks four to five weeks in jail for Chan, arguing he knew the risks and was aware he wasn’t very good at using slingshots, but continued anyway practice with his slingshots.
Chan could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to S$5,000, or both.