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Govt fails to overturn RM450,000 police lockup death damages award
Published on: Tuesday, May 14, 2024
By: FMT, V Anbalagan
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Govt fails to overturn RM450,000 police lockup death damages award
The Court of Appeal rebuked the police for refusing to provide closed-circuit television footage on what happened to M Segar at the lock-up and interrogation room.
PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has dismissed the government’s appeal to overturn an award of RM450,000 in damages to a widow and her son who filed a negligence suit following her husband’s death in custody seven years ago.

A three-member bench chaired by Justice Lee Swee Seng said there was no good reason to interfere in the finding of facts by the trial judge.

“The injuries sustained by the deceased are irresistible in light of evidence by a forensic pathologist,” said Lee who sat with Justices Collin Lawrence Sequerah and Azizul Azmi Adnan.

In rebuking the police, he said they had refused to provide closed-circuit television footage on what happened to M Segar at a Port Dickson lock-up and interrogation room.

“When the burden shifted to the defendants, they failed to rebut with any cogent evidence,” he said.

He said the government’s appeal, on the RM150,000 awarded for misfeasance in public office and another RM200,000 for aggravated damages, was also not manifestly excessive.

“Taking into account the conduct of the police, the damages are justified,” he said, awarding RM15,000 in costs to M Vimala Devy and her son Thusataran.

Lawyers Krishna Dallumal, Haresh Mahadevan and Yong Young Hui appeared for Vimala and her son while senior federal counsel Siti Syakimah Ibrahim and federal counsel Syafiq Affandy Hassan represented the government.

On Sept 8 last year, Judicial Commissioner Wan Fadhilah Wan Idris, in her judgment said the defendants had been negligent as they had failed to ensure the safety of Segar who was in their custody.

Wan Fadhilah had awarded the plaintiffs RM200,000 in aggravated damages, RM150,000 for misfeasance in public office, RM63,000 for loss of support, RM30,000 for bereavement and RM3,780 for funeral expenses.

A forensic pathologist had testified that the deceased suffered multiple blunt force trauma wounds and the age of these wounds coincided with the time he was arrested and detained in the lock-up.

Vimala and Thusataran had named recording officer Rozek Azmi, the Port Dickson district police chief, the Port Dickson police station chief, the Negri Sembilan police chief, the Inspector-General of Police and the government as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs claimed there were serious breaches by the defendants from the time Segar was detained until his death.

The statement of claim said Segar, who worked as a food stall assistant, and his friend S Mogan were detained by the police about 10.30pm on April 17, 2017, for allegedly being involved in drug abuse.

The following morning, police took Segar to the Port Dickson district station after obtaining a three-day remand order from a magistrate.

At about 2.30pm the same day, Rozek called investigating officer Nor Asyiqin Wahirudin and said that he wanted to take Segar out of his cell to record his statement.

Rozek had spent two hours with Segar and sent him back to his cell at around 4.45pm.

At 1.20am the following morning, Segar was found shivering in his cell and the policeman on duty gave him painkiller (analgesic drugs).

When his condition worsened, a medical officer was called in at around 2am but he found that Segar had died about 10 minutes before his arrival.

Vimala then lodged a report and an inquest found Segar’s death to be a misadventure.

Following a revision, the High Court declared an open verdict over Segar’s death.

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