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Singapore

Senior investigation officer committed sex offences against suspects in police custody, gets jail and caning

Senior investigation officer committed sex offences against suspects in police custody, gets jail and caning

File photo of State Courts. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: A senior investigation officer with the Singapore Police Force (SPF) committed sexual offences against female suspects in police custody, ordering one woman to perform sex acts on him in the interview room.

Lee Sze Chiat, 39, was sentenced to a year's jail and one stroke of the cane on Tuesday (Nov 19) for acts that the prosecution called "a callous dereliction of duty".

He pleaded guilty to one charge of molesting a female suspect and another of engaging in conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, by engaging in sexual activity with a female detainee in police custody.

The court heard that Lee joined the force in July 2002 and was a senior investigation officer at Jurong Police Divisional Headquarters, with the rank of senior staff sergeant, at the time of the offences.

Two female suspects, whose identities are protected by gag order, were arrested on Dec 6, 2017, on suspicion that they had been providing sexual services.

They were escorted to Jurong Police Divisional Headquarters where Lee worked to assist in police investigations.

Even though Lee was not rostered or formally assigned to perform any investigative duties in relation to the arrests of the women, aged 28 and 29, he heard about the arrests and offered to help.

The investigative team accepted his offer and forwarded the arrest report of the two women to him.

At about 11pm, Lee escorted the 28-year-old woman from the lockup in the basement to an interview room.

He closed the door behind him and interviewed her in the room, before asking her twice to approach him to give him a massage.

The woman refused, and Lee stood up and locked the door of the interview room, said Deputy Public Prosecutors Marshall Lim and Niranjan Ranjakunalan.

He then went over to the bench where the woman was seated and told her that there were no closed-circuit television cameras installed inside the room.

He presented his back to her and asked her to massage him. While reluctant, the woman ultimately agreed, as she did not want to turn down the request from a police officer. 

The woman raised her voice and told Lee to stop when he started molesting her chest. He told her to lower her voice, then put her hands on his privates and asked for "services".

The woman pulled her hands away and told Lee to stop, shocked that he would make such a request in the police station.

Lee also pulled open the woman's collar to peek at her chest.

HE TARGETED SECOND WOMAN IN ESCALATING OFFENCES

After this interview, Lee took over custody of the second victim from another investigation officer.

Halfway through the interview in the room, Lee instructed the 29-year-old woman to walk over to him and masturbate him.

The woman was reluctant but agreed as she did not want to turn down a request from a police officer.

After this, Lee asked her to perform a sex act on him, and she again did so despite her reluctance.

The first victim told another investigation officer about what had happened a few days after the incident, and was advised to report the matter, which she did.

DISQUIETING CASE: PROSECUTION

The prosecution had asked for at least 13 months' jail and one stroke of the cane, calling the facts in this case "disquieting".

"A senior investigation officer tasked with investigating criminal offences ... elected to commit them instead," said the prosecutors. "Despite his oath to uphold the law, the accused wilfully chose to flout it while he was carrying out duties in his capacity as a police officer and in the premises of police headquarters."

"It is shocking that a police officer of the accused's seniority could commit such abhorrent offences," said the prosecution.

An officer tasked with upholding the law who flouts it must be dealt with sternly to send a strong message to others in his position that such conduct will not be tolerated, they added.

For using criminal force to outrage a woman's modesty, Lee could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, caned or given any combination of such penalties.

For engaging in conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline under the Police Force Act, he could have been jailed for up to six months, fined a maximum of S$1,000 or both.

In reply to CNA's queries, SPF said that Lee had been "interdicted from service" since Dec 26, 2017.

"Officers of SPF are not only expected to uphold the law but maintain the highest standards of conduct and integrity. We deal severely with officers who break the law, including charging them in court," said police. 

The authorities said they take the safety of those taken into police custody "very seriously" and that there are measures to ensure that such individuals receive "safe and fair treatment". 

"This was an isolated case and does not represent the professional and disciplined conduct of the rest of our SPF officers."

SPF began disciplinary proceedings against Lee following his conviction on Tuesday. 

Source: CNA/ll(hs)

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