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Man gets jail after stealing bag from dead person and discarding suicide note; had searched several floors to find belongings

He paid $70 to perform a factory reset on two phones he had stolen, and threw away the suicide note found in the haversack, hampering police investigations.

Ng Hoe Ghee, 52, sentenced to four months and four weeks' jail on 7th February, after resetting two handphones to factory settings and discarding a suicide note, causing the police to lose evidence in their investigations into the man’s death.
Ng Hoe Ghee, 52, sentenced to four months and four weeks' jail on 7th February, after resetting two handphones to factory settings and discarding a suicide note, causing the police to lose evidence in their investigations into the man’s death. (PHOTO: Yahoo Southeast Asia)

SINGAPORE — After discovering the body of a man who had committed suicide at the foot of a Housing Board block and speaking to the police, a 52-year-old man stole the dead person’s belongings, which included several electronics and notebooks

Ng Hoe Ghee then proceeded to reset the two handphones to their factory settings, and discarded a suicide note, causing the police to lose evidence in their investigations into the 22-year-old man’s death. For his crimes, he was sentenced to four months and four weeks’ jail on Wednesday (7 Feb).

Ng had come across the motionless body covered in multiple injuries at about 1.20pm on 12 August 2023 at the foot of a block, reported CNA. He proceeded to cover the body with cardboard that he found and picked up the man’s wallet that had fallen nearby.

When police officers arrived upon receiving a call about the death, Ng handed over the wallet and shared what he had seen with them. Paramedics then pronounced the man dead.

Searched several floors

Ng was permitted to leave the scene by the police and decided to find out which floor the man had jumped from.

After several floors of searching, he found a black haversack that belonged to the dead man. But instead of turning it in, he hid it in a box and stacked it with another box. He then left the two boxes outside a flat.

Ng came back the next day and rummaged through the haversack. In it, he found a laptop, two handphones, notebooks and several other items, according to CNA.

Flipping through the books, he discovered a note by the deceased, who wrote about his struggles and feeling "haunted".

Ng kept the electronics and discarded all the other items, including the note. However, all the gadgets were password-protected.

He removed and disposed of the SIM cards in both phones, before paying $70 to perform a factory reset on them. He started using one of the phones, and kept the haversack and stolen electronics with him wherever he went.

How he was caught

During this time, the police investigations revealed that the dead man was seen with a haversack on the day of the suicide, but multiple attempts to locate the bag were unsuccessful. They tried to find Ng to assist with the investigations, and issued a police gazette when he could not be found.

Ng was only found on 7 September 2023 in Jurong East, after officers approached him for a routine check and discovered that a police gazette had been issued against him.

When the dead man’s phone was found on Ng, he said that he had borrowed it from a storekeeper. It was only after he was referred to the investigating officer that he returned the stolen items.

As the phones had been reset and the note left by the dead man was thrown away, the police lost information that would have assisted them in their investigations about the man’s death. Ng also admitted to stealing a phone from a stranger who had dropped it by accident on a separate occasion.

In his mitigation, Ng apologised and cited financial strain as the reason behind his actions. He also said that “this kind of thing” should not be released or known, referring to the dead individual's struggles.

For his crimes, Ng could have been jailed for up to three years and fined.

If you have thoughts of suicide or are feeling distressed, you can call the Samaritans of Singapore's 24-hour hotline at 1767. You can also email pat@sos.org.sg.

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