Girl, 18, fell seven storeys to her death after taking drugs, coroner finds

The death of Denyse Tan, who fell naked from a Bukit Panjang flat, has been ruled to be misadventure.
The death of Denyse Tan, who fell naked from a Bukit Panjang flat, has been ruled to be misadventure.PHOTO: ST GRAPHIC

SINGAPORE - The death of an 18-year-old girl who fell naked from a Bukit Panjang flat has been ruled to be misadventure.

A coroner's court found on Monday that student Denyse Tan was suffering from drug psychosis when she plunged seven storeys from her bedroom window on Aug 19 last year.

She was found at around 11am, lying face-down, naked, and severely injured at the base of Block 431, Bukit Panjang Ring Road, where she lived with her father and older brother.

She was taken conscious to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, but slipped into a coma and finally succumbed to her injuries on Sept 3.

A toxicology report found that there was 0.14ug/mL of methamphetamine, or 'ice', in Ms Tan's body when she fell.

Her brother Jonathan was the only one at home during the incident. He said that he had been sleeping and did not realise what had happened until the police came to his unit.

Police had to break into Ms Tan's room, which was locked. The room was full of smoke and disorganised, and a packet of cannabis was found on her desk stuffed under her laptop.

Inspector Quah Cheng Hui surmised the deceased had taken a shower shortly before the incident, then returned to her room wrapped only in a towel as was her habit.

Investigations revealed the teenager had started taking cannabis in 2012, after a classmate in secondary school introduced her to it. In June 2013, she purchased some from him at school during recess. Last year, she started taking methamphetamine.

Witness accounts showed Ms Tan had exhibited signs of drug-induced psychosis, such as hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia, in the month leading up to the incident.

For instance, she had told family members that she kept hearing children's voices at night and animal sounds coming from her room, and also that she "felt very dirty" and that something or someone was following her.

Two weeks before her fall, she had knocked on her father's door while he was sleeping and said frantically: "Daddy, Daddy, got monster in your room, cannot go back."

State Coroner Marvin Bay called Ms Tan's case "a sad, cautionary account".

He said: "Drug abusers commonly progress upstream to ever more dangerous or 'harder' drugs as the novelty of their existing drug wears off."

He added the case was also a reminder that the harm from drug abuse extends far beyond just the risk of overdose. "Drug users are likely to effect self-harm, or as in Ms Tan's case, place themselves in harm's way, while in an intoxicated, or even delusional state."

Her father, businessman Peter Tan, sobbed as the coroner gave his findings.

The 54-year-old divorcee told reporters he had not known his daughter took drugs, although he was aware she smoked a lot.

He said he did not understand how the drug problem remains prevalent in schools. "It's such a small island. Why can't (the authorities) contain it?"

He described Ms Tan as "a quiet girl" who was "polite" and "sporty". She had just started a course on criminology at a private school after dropping out of a digital media course at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

He said: "She was a very creative girl, she had so many things to look forward to. Our lives were going so smoothly. I don't know why this had to happen."