Man's bid to enter locked flat via window proved fatal

A 61-year-old man fell six floors to his death while trying to create a makeshift support to climb into his locked rental flat through the open kitchen window, a coroner's court heard yesterday .

Above Mr Foo Chee Ching, who was found lying at the foot of Block 1, Holland Close, was his T-shirt lashed to secure the laundry pole to the corridor railing on the sixth floor. Nearby was another bamboo pole leaning against the wall.

Mr Foo was pronounced dead at 2.07pm on March 11.

Mr Foo, who lived alone, was found bare-bodied and barefooted, clad just in shorts.

At an inquest into Mr Foo's death, the court heard that a cleaner, Mr Kadir Abdul, was driving his utility vehicle that afternoon when he saw a bamboo pole fall. He saw Mr Foo standing alone on the sixth-floor corridor railing, holding onto another bamboo pole and trying to connect it with the pole holder fixture beneath his window.

The court heard that midazolam and nordizaepam were among the drugs found in Mr Foo's blood sample. Although they did not play any direct role in his death, these sedatives could cause drowsiness and giddiness, and might also affect a person's gait, balance and coordination.

Police camera footage showed him going up to the sixth floor with bamboo poles in his hands, and coming down without any no fewer than three times within the hour.

In his findings yesterday, State Coroner Marvin Bay said there was no basis to suspect foul play.

Investigators had found a bamboo pole found wedged between the laundry pole holders of Mr Foo's flat at one end, and tied to the common corridor railing at the other end with his own shirt.

No keys were found on his body or inside the locked flat.

The coroner, who found Mr Foo's death to be an "unfortunate misadventure", said he had likely, in his disorientated and drug-compromised state, slipped and fallen, while trying to ford the 1.2m-gap between the ledge and his window.

"Mr Foo, in his ill-advised and intrepid attempt to regain access to his own apartment, had upon this fall, sustained severe injuries, which proved fatal," he said.

Cases like Mr Foo's and several others he had heard starkly show the risks involved when persons who find themselves locked out of their apartments act impulsively to regain access by traversing parapets, balconies or other supporting structures to get in, he said.

"It is plain that these improvised manoeuvres are highly dangerous, as these structures are certainly not purposefully designed to facilitate easy access for re-entry into their units.

"Persons who find themselves locked out should either call their family members and relatives for help to regain access, or call a locksmith if they live alone," said the coroner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Man's bid to enter locked flat via window proved fatal'. Print Edition | Subscribe