SINGAPORE: A policewoman who forged a statement by an alleged molestation victim, triggering a chain of events that almost saw the victim being charged for giving false information, was sentenced to five months' jail on Tuesday (Jan 8).
Senior Staff Sergeant Kalaivani Kalimuthu, 38, was an investigation officer in the Violence Against Persons Squad at Ang Mo Kio Division when she committed the offence.
As part of her work, she handled a case by a woman who was not named in court documents. The woman lodged a police report in March 2016, alleging in a statement that she had been molested by a person who had also tried to rape her.
Kalaivani was assigned to conduct investigations into this case, and had to interview her and record a further statement.
She called the woman but could not arrange an interview with her. As she wanted to complete the investigation quickly, she decided to forge the further statement, Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew told the court.
She did so on her police-issued laptop in November 2016, without the woman present, adding details to the statement that the woman had never provided.
These include a claim that the woman had touched her alleged molester during the incident, and that she did not mind her attacker touching her.
Kalaivani signed the statement with the woman's name by tracing her signature from the previous statement, and sent the investigation papers to her officer-in-charge, referring to the forged statement and recommending that no further action be taken regarding the woman's police report.
POLICE RECOMMENDED CHARGING THE WOMAN FOR GIVING FALSE INFO
The police sent the investigation papers to the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC), recommending that a warning be given to the woman for giving false information to the police.
AGC directed the police to take a further statement from the woman when the police recommended charging her for providing false information.
The matter was reassigned to another investigation officer, who interviewed the woman in person in June 2017. He showed her the forged statement, and the woman said she did not remember going to the police station to give such a statement.
She added that she did not say the things recorded in the statement and did not remember saying that she no longer wanted to pursue the matter, instead thinking that the case had been closed.
In giving this statement, the woman said she no longer wished to pursue the matter. The investigation officer checked and found no record of the woman entering the police station on the day the forged statement had purportedly been taken.
Kalaivani, who has been suspended from the Singapore Police Force since September 2017, pleaded guilty in December last year.
The prosecution had asked for five to six months' jail, saying that Kalaivani's offence "was in severe dereliction of the duties she had been entrusted with", and in flagrant breach of the trust reposed in her.
"The accused’s offence has also harmed the public interest and has the potential to undermine public confidence in law enforcement agencies and the proper administration of criminal justice," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Chew.
While acknowledging that Kalaivani had pleaded guilty early, she pointed out that "this is a case where the prosecution would not have had any difficulty proving its case at trial".
For committing forgery, Kalaivani could have been jailed for up to four years, fined, or both.
"Officers of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) are expected to uphold the law and maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity," police said in a statement late on Tuesday.
"We will deal severely with officers who break the law, including charging them in Court," the statement said, adding that police have commenced disciplinary proceedings against Kalaivani.
After Kalaivani's forgery was discovered, police conducted investigations into the molest case to determine if she had compromised its investigation.
"The molest case was subsequently duly investigated by another officer and justice was served with the prosecution of the accused in the molest case," police said.
There was no indication that Kalaivani had compromised investigations in other cases which she had been involved in, police said.