Businessman's fiery death in his car in Tanglin Halt Road a suicide, coroner finds

SINGAPORE - A businessman deliberately set his car on fire and drove it for a distance before stopping after mounting a kerb, hitting a signboard and a tree, a coroner's court heard.

Witnesses saw Dick Tay Kwang Lok's burning Mercedes-Benz and tried to alert him but the 43-year-old either ignored them or dismissed their shouts of alarm.

Mr Andrew John Zakaluzny had told the court earlier that he was jogging along a railway track near Masjid Hang Jebat on Dec 5, 2015 when he saw 2m-high flames in the heavy vehicle carpark in Queensway.

When he went to check, he saw fire coming from under the door on the driver's side of the Mercedes-Benz with Tay in the seat. He shouted to Tay who reversed his car and started to drive out of the carpark.

Mr Zakaluzny gave chase and saw other passers-by shouting at Tay telling him that his car was on fire. Mr Zakaluzny took a bus to keep track of the car.

After two bus stops, he found it mounted on a kerb near Block 27, Tanglin Halt Road. Police were informed.

Another witness, Mr William Hioe, was driving along Queensway that morning when he saw Tay's car turning out from Queen's Crescent with fire emanating from the engine at the front right undercarriage. Mr Hioe sounded his horn several times to signal to Tay, who continued driving even faster.

When he finally caught up with the Mercedes-Benz at the traffic lights, Mr Hioe signalled to Tay to lower his car window and shouted to tell him that his car was on fire. But Tay gave a quizzical reply "Is it?'' and then drove off.

The inquest heard that before Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers put out the fire, several people, including Bangladeshi workers, tried to rescue Tay from the car.

Tay, the court heard, did not have any health, mental, personal, family or financial problems.

In his findings on Tuesday (Jan 16), Coroner Marvin Bay accepted the SCDF and police investigations which pointed to the deliberate introduction of petrol to accelerate the development of the fire. He said the most probable cause of the fire was incendiary, with a naked light, possibly from a lighter.

"While Mr Tay's motivations for the act remain an enigma, the witnessed circumstances and documented forensic evidence irrefutably point to his demise to have arisen from a deliberate act of suicide," the coroner said.