All 8 reopened coroner's cases involved fatal crashes, with up to 4 allegedly forged statements each

The statements were allegedly forced by the then investigation officer, who has been suspended since Dec 27, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - All eight coroner's inquiries that were reopened over allegations of forgery by the then investigation officer (IO) of the cases involved fatal road accidents.

A district court heard on Tuesday (Oct 19) that the officer, Station Inspector Kenny Cheong Chyuan Lih, is alleged to have forged between one and four statements per case.

His alleged offences came to light following investigations by the Internal Affairs Office of the Singapore Police Force.

The policeman, who has been suspended since Dec 27, 2018, allegedly forged statements by people including eyewitnesses and family members of the dead.

All of the affected inquiries had been handled by then State Coroner Marvin Bay, and he has to look into the cases again. The original inquiries had taken place between 2016 and 2018.

Seven cases have since been completed in the rehearings. Six cases were heard on Monday, and Coroner Bay was satisfied there had been no miscarriage of justice for them.

The inquiry into the death of security officer Tan Choon Lai, 56, involved four allegedly forged statements - the most in the eight cases.

He was riding a motorcycle along a slip road of the Pan-Island Expressway into Bukit Timah Expressway at around 12.40am on July 10, 2017, when he collided with a taxi before hitting a guard railing.

He was taken to the National University Hospital and died of multiple injuries later that morning.

Station Insp Cheong is said to have forged two statements from the taxi driver and one each from Mr Tan's sister and an eyewitness. Three of the statements were allegedly forged after he had conversations with the trio.

Coroner Bay said Mr Tan was later found to have 233mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This is almost three times the legal limit of 80mg.

He added: "Mr Tan's grossly elevated postmortem blood alcohol level... would have likely caused severe intoxication, such as drowsiness, loss of coordination or poor judgment.

"Mr Tan's demise is... a traffic misadventure and follows a number of cases of individuals who have suffered fatal collisions... while inebriated."

The seventh case was heard on Tuesday morning and the court heard that Station Insp Cheong's alleged acts of forgery had no impact on its findings.

This case involved another security officer, Shaik Shamshudin E. K. Shaik Hussain, 59, who was crossing a road near the junction of Victoria Street and Arab Street on Dec 29, 2015, when a taxi hit him.

He was taken to the Singapore General Hospital and died of multiple injuries two days later.

Station Insp Cheong is later said to have forged three statements linked to the incident - one each from the taxi driver, an eyewitness and Mr Shaik's daughter.

On Tuesday, Coroner Bay said the contents of the forged documents linked to the driver and the eyewitness were found to be similar to earlier statements taken by another IO.

"These statements, which were verified to have come from the actual witnesses, had also deposed that Mr Shaik had failed to yield the right of way to the incoming traffic, resulting in the accident... I reaffirm my finding that Mr Shaik's demise is a most unfortunate traffic misadventure."

As for the matter involving Mr Shaik's daughter, the court heard that she had never seen the statement she had purportedly given Station Insp Cheong.

The eighth and final case involved a 66-year-old motorist who was killed following an accident in Woodlands in September 2016.

His family members were in court on Tuesday and highlighted issues of concern, such as the speed of the vehicles involved in the case.

Coroner Bay did not give his findings on this case, adding: "As the concerns included questions of whether the investigations were truly complete... the case was adjourned for... further investigations to be completed."

In an earlier statement, the police said they were unable to comment further on Station Insp Cheong's case as investigations are ongoing.

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