Police officer tells why he left maid in water tank

A POLICE officer who found a maid's body submerged in a water tank told an inquiry into her death on Wednesday that he did not pull her out immediately because "I did not want to put myself at risk".

Sergeant Mohd Faizal Mohamad went to the 16th floor rooftop at 10.10am after a cleaning supervisor called the police to report seeing one of his colleagues acting suspiciously with Indonesian domestic worker Ms Ruliyawati, 30.

Her family's lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed said that her body was in water 1.2m deep in the 2.2m high tank.

Grilled by the lawyer why he did not pull her out, Sgt Mohd Faizal said it was dark and he could not see how deep the water was.

State Coroner Imran Abdul Hamid noted that it was unfair to ask the officer to jump into the tank to find out if it was safe to do so.

Paramedics pulled her out at 10.20am and pronounced her dead.

Asked by the coroner about police procedures when a person is found hanged, the officer said he was to cut the person down immediately and check for vital signs.

"I would then call for backup and secure the scene," he added.

He did admit that he was unsure if he was required to apply cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Ms Ruliyawati died following the incident at Woodlands Drive in May 2011.

An investigation report read out in January revealed that she had been in a relationship with cleaner Md Repon Mostafa, 29.

Her employers found out and forbade her from contacting the Bangladeshi. Although married and with a four-year-old son back in Indonesia, she had asked him to commit suicide together.

He was reluctant and at 7am on May 16, she forced him to take her to the rooftop by threatening to stab herself with a foldable knife. They had sex there.

He tried to prevent her from drowning herself but backed off when she cut him with the knife.

Mr Repon was arrested at the scene and initially charged with murdering her, but was later awarded a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Yesterday, forensic pathologist Paul Chui testified that although the water was only up to Ms Ruliyawati's chin, she could have drowned by immersing her head underwater for up to 30 seconds several times. He explained: "When she comes up for air, she may not breathe properly before dunking her head again."

This could let water into her lungs and brain damage would be irreversible after about five minutes without oxygen, he said.

Dr Chui also told the court that there were no defensive injuries on her, and the "superficial" stab wounds on her back could have been self-inflicted.

The inquiry continues on Thursday.

khush@sph.com.sg

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