Thursday, May 12 2022

Singapore State Courts. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE – A 49-year-old Australian citizen was sentenced to five years and six months in prison on Friday April 8 for throwing a bottle of wine from the landing of an elevator on the seventh floor of a condominium building, which hit a elderly man in the lead and killed him in 2019.

Andrew Gosling had thrown the bottle while drunk at an unsuspecting group of Malay-Muslims at a barbecue area on the fifth floor of the Spottiswoode 18 condominium, in what prosecutors described as offenses that “showed insanity.” hostility towards Muslims” and were “religiously aggravated”.

The bottle hit Nasiari Sunee, 73, then ricocheted and struck his 69-year-old wife in the shoulder. He died in hospital the next day from his injuries, while his wife Manisah was seriously injured.

Gosling admitted one count of causing death by a reckless act and one count of causing serious bodily injury by a reckless act. He had entered Singapore to find a job but was unemployed at the time.

Court documents said that after throwing the bottle and shouting crude and religious vulgarities, Gosling fled to his unit. It took him 10 days to confess to the police, after they interrogated him three times and took statements from other residents of the condominium.

His charges were reduced from the more serious ones of causing serious injury to Nasiari with an instrument capable of causing death, as well as willfully injuring Manisah in an act aggravated by religion.

Psychiatrists found that he was prone to obsessive negative thoughts when intoxicated, which did not represent his true feelings and intentions.

Yelled religious vulgarities after throwing a bottle

The court previously heard that Gosling noticed the group at barbecues on the evening of August 18, 2019. By then, he had already consumed two large bottles and a can of beer.

Gosling found that the group belonged to the Malay-Muslim community as some of the women wore the headscarf. He admitted during investigations that it had crossed his mind to use a weapon like a rifle to shoot them, but he dismissed the idea because he thought it was a heinous act.

Around 8 p.m., he left his unit to dispose of the trash at the common trash chute in the elevator lobby that overlooked the barbecue area. After finding an empty wine bottle in the garbage chute, he threw it at the group. He then ran towards his unit shouting religious vulgarities.

Gosling confessed to throwing the bottle for two reasons: he had wanted to scare the group when the bottle shattered on the floor, and he was angry at acts of terrorism committed by Islamic fundamentalist groups in Bali and Melbourne who had cost the lives of Australians.

Nasiari collapsed after being hit by the bottle and was taken to Singapore General Hospital in an ambulance, arriving in a completely unresponsive condition. A brain scan showed heavy bleeding in his brain, multiple skull fractures and heavy hemorrhaging. He died the day after the incident when his family refused to resuscitate him.

Manisah suffered major bruises on his shoulder, among other injuries, and his arm was in a sling for two months. The couple had been married for 45 years and prosecutors said Manisah struggled to come to terms with her husband’s death, having experienced flashbacks of the incident and crying to herself when alone.

Gosling ‘was clearly reckless,’ the district judge said

In his sentencing remarks on Friday, District Judge Victor Yeo said Gosling had “shown manifest recklessness” and had taken a “conscious and deliberate risk” that the bottle would hit more or one person, resulting in the death or serious injury.

He agreed with the prosecution that the offenses were “religiously aggravated” because Gosling had shown religious hostility towards Muslims.

“Such offenses could seriously damage the racial and religious harmony of Singapore, and must not be tolerated and must be dealt with firmly,” DJ Yeo reported today.

“Preserving and building inter-religious harmony in Singapore is sacrosanct and it could have a wider impact by causing unease within the wider Muslim community. concern that may arise from breaches.”

DJ Yeo added that Gosling’s actions also amount to lethal waste and such offenses “must be treated seriously” given that a large majority of Singapore’s population resides in high-rise buildings.

Nonetheless, he accepted his lawyers’ arguments that he was genuinely remorseful for his offenses, although he did not surrender to authorities until a few days later. He voluntarily paid an allowance to the family to offset some of their expenses.

Gosling was evaluated at the Institute of Mental Health, where psychiatrist Christopher Cheok found that his state of intoxication had impaired his judgment to some extent, but was not sufficient to eliminate his culpability for the offence.

The psychiatrist’s report also said Gosling’s obsessive negative thoughts while intoxicated were likely a product of his altered mental state and “did not genuinely reflect an anti-Muslim stance”.

“Even if he had committed the alleged offence, it was unlikely to be religiously motivated,” the report said.

As for the individual sentences, DiJ Yeo chose to serve them consecutively rather than simultaneously because his offenses “involved a separate and distinct invasion of legally protected interests.” He also took into account the “high degree of recklessness” involved.

He sentenced Gosling to four years in prison for causing Nasiari’s death and 18 months in prison for seriously injuring Mdm Manisah. The aggregate sentence was backdated to August 28, 2019, when he surrendered to police.

Those found guilty of causing death by a reckless act can be imprisoned for up to five years or fined, or punished with both. Those who cause serious injury by a reckless act can be jailed for up to four years or fined up to $10,000, or both.

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