Cop misappropriated 2 police-issued iPads, gets 7 months' jail

Hemavathy Gunasekaran, who held the rank of Sergeant 2, pawned the devices for $300. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE- A policewoman misappropriated two police-issued iPads worth more than $900 in total and pawned them at a shop.

Hemavathy Gunasekaran received $300 in return, the court heard.

The devices were later resold to other people when she did not redeem them.

The 37-year-old Singaporean was sentenced on Monday (July 6) to seven months' jail after she was convicted of one count of criminal breach of trust by a public servant.

Following a trial, District Judge Salina Ishak had found her guilty of the offence last month.

Hemavathy, who held the rank of Sergeant 2, joined the Singapore Police Force (SPF) in 2005 and was deployed to the Marina Bay Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) four years later.

Her duties included conducting house visits to educate the public on SGSecure, Singapore's community response to the terrorism threat.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Foo Shi Hao said in his submissions that at times, such duties involved the use of two SPF-issued iPads, which Hemavathy's colleagues handed to her in November 2016.

The DPP added that the policewoman misappropriated the devices on Dec 8 that year and pawned them for $300 at a Jurong West mobile phone shop.

The iPads were later found missing at her workplace and one of her superiors, Assistant Superintendent Tam Chin Kong, repeatedly asked her to look for them in early September 2017.

ASP Tam later lodged a police report.

In Hemavathy's statement dated Sept 12 that year, the policewoman admitted that she had knowingly pawned the devices, said the DPP.

He told the court: "The accused claimed that her motivation for pawning the iPads was... to take 'revenge' (on) the officer-in-charge of (the Crime Strike Force- a different unit within Marina Bay NPC) for alleged ill-treatment of police officers."

But in another interview in December that year, she instead claimed that she had mistakenly pawned the devices and had "actually intended to pawn her personal iPads", the DPP said.

He added: "To date, she has not produced the alleged personal iPads and no such iPads were found in a police raid conducted at her residence."

On Monday, DPP Foo said Hemavathy has made no restitution and urged Judge Salina to sentence her to seven months' jail.

Defence lawyer Peter Fernando told the court that his client has since been suspended.

Pleading for a sentence of 10 weeks' jail, he added that Hemavathy had provided "exemplary service" with the SPF and stressed that she had earned "many commendations".

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For criminal breach of trust as a public servant, Hemavathy could have been jailed for up to 20 years and fined.

SPF has commenced disciplinary proceedings against Hemavathy, following her conviction on June 4.

A spokesman said: "Officers of the Singapore Police Force are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity. We deal severely with officers who break the law, including charging them in Court. Sergeant Hemavathy d/o Gunasekaran had been interdicted from service since 4 October 2017."

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