Coroner concludes final inquiry after 8 of them reopened due to forgery allegations

All eight reopened inquiries are said to be linked to a police officer who allegedly forged statements in the cases. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Eight coroner's inquiries had to be reopened following allegations of forgery by the then investigation officer (IO) and the final one was concluded on Friday (April 1).

This last inquiry involved the death of Mr Chew Chia Ngiak, 66, in 2016. It was reopened after two earlier statements from witnesses were found to have been falsified.

All eight reopened inquiries are said to be linked to Station Inspector Kenny Cheong Chyuan Lih.

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

All the affected inquiries involved fatal crashes. They had been handled by the then State Coroner Marvin Bay, and he had to look into the cases again.

The original inquiries had taken place between 2016 and 2018.

Coroner Bay had handled the original inquiry into Mr Chew's death in 2017.

He said in his latest findings on Friday that the contents of one of the forged statements, taken from a 12-year-old boy, had no impact on the case.

This was because the child had "consistently asserted that he had not witnessed the collision".

Coroner Bay added: "The account of the other witness... was far more material... and a genuine conditioned statement was recorded on Sept 6 (last year).

"Even though the initial conditioned statement of this witness was forged by IO Kenny Cheong, investigations reveal that he had created the version depicted in the forged statement from material he had obtained in actual, albeit verbal, interviews with (her), which he then transcribed and converted into the forged conditioned statement."

Station Insp Cheong's alleged offences came to light following investigations by the Internal Affairs Office of the Singapore Police Force.

Seven cases were completed in the rehearings last year. Six were heard on Oct 18 and Coroner Bay was satisfied that there had been no miscarriage of justice for them.

The seventh case was heard on Oct 19 and the court heard that Station Insp Cheong's alleged acts of forgery had no impact on its findings.

As for Mr Chew's case, the court heard that he had worked as a fishmonger and owned at stall in Hougang.

Shortly before the accident in the wee hours of Sept 4, 2016, Mr Chew was driving a lorry at a signalised junction of Admiralty Road West and Woodlands Avenue 8.

His vehicle later hit a car driven by a teenage probationary driver who had obtained his licence in May that year. Mr Chew was later found lying on the road.

Coroner Bay said: "The evidence... strongly suggests that Mr Chew was not wearing his seat belt prior to the event and was thrown out from the cabin from the front passenger window from the force of the impact."

Mr Chew was pronounced dead at the scene at 2.46am on Sept 4, 2016.

Station Insp Cheong is said to have forged the statements of two passengers who were in the car - the 12-year-old boy and his sister, who was the teenage driver's girlfriend at the time.

On Friday, the coroner found Mr Chew's death to be an "unfortunate traffic misadventure".

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

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.