Lawyer convicted of misappropriation died a week into serving jail sentence, coroner's inquiry told

Zaminder Singh Gill was sentenced to 27 months' jail on Sept 28 last year.
Zaminder Singh Gill was sentenced to 27 months' jail on Sept 28 last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A lawyer who misappropriated clients' monies died while serving his sentence last year, about a week after he was convicted.

Zaminder Singh Gill, 57, was sentenced to 27 months' jail on Sept 28 last year.

But on the morning of Oct 5, he was found in his cell at Changi Prison Complex without a pulse. He was pronounced dead after he was taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH).

On Wednesday (March 10), the coroner's court was told that Gill had a known history of heart disease, and that he died from natural causes.

Addressing the court on the first day of the coroner's inquiry, State Counsel Derek Ee said Gill had been assessed by doctors prior to being placed in his cell and no abnormalities were observed.

He said Gill's condition had remained stable, and was deemed fit to serve his sentence.

Mr Ee also told the court that video recordings from inside the prisons would be played during the inquiry, and requested that only the next of kin and the relevant court officers be present when the clips were played due to security concerns.

Mr R.S. Bajwa, one of three lawyers representing the family of Gill, said the next of kin did not wish to view the footage as it was too distressing for them.

State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam ordered that the videos be shown in-camera, which means that this is not open to the public, including the media.

Gill was previously a lawyer with Hilborne Law, and was convicted on five counts of criminal breach of trust as an attorney involving more than $20,000.

The charges were linked to five victims.

Ten other similar charges involving another $11,000 were considered during sentencing.

A police investigation officer, who was the first witness called to the stand on Wednesday, said Gill had a known history of heart disease and hypertension.

The day before his death, Gill was examined by a prison doctor and found to have normal vital signs.

He was previously found to have anomalies affecting the left side of his heart, but the doctor that day deemed him fit for discharge from medical care.

Gill was then given a medical certificate for five days before being placed in his single-person cell.

He was first placed in the cell on Sept 21 last year, while he was in remand.

The investigation officer said security camera footage from the cell showed Gill moving around normally in his cell at 6.15am on Oct 5.

At 7.03am, the camera captured him lying down face up with an eye mask on.

He had some brief body movements before his left hand moved to his left chest area.

There was no further movement observed shortly after.

He was found without a pulse at about 7.30am, and prison officers had tried to resuscitate him before he was taken to CGH, where he was declared dead at 8.54am.

Proceedings related to the case are expected to be held on March 18 at the coroner’s court.