Singapore police accessed an external hard drive found at the home of American research engineer Shane Todd, the FBI said, rather than an unknown person as asserted by his family to support their claim he was murdered.
A May 9 U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation report presented to a coroner’s inquest yesterday confirmed the drive Todd’s family found in the apartment and gave to the FBI was the same device Singapore police had examined.
Singapore opened the inquiry after the Todd family said their son was murdered, disputing an initial police finding that he committed suicide by hanging. The inquest continued today with a lab director from the forensic science unit at the Health Sciences Authority showing simulations of how a man of Todd’s weight and height could have hanged himself from a door.
Today’s hearing ended after Todd’s mother Mary said she felt like vomiting and couldn’t continue after photographs of Todd’s body and his home were shown in court.
Singapore is “only looking at suicide” as a conclusion and has failed to look into certain evidence including activity on Todd’s mobile phone days after he died, she said, fighting back tears outside the courthouse. “I want the truth to be known,” she said.
Singapore’s position remains that it welcomes information from the family relating to evidence they wish to challenge, the Attorney-General’s Chambers said in an e-mailed statement today.
While lawyers acting for the Todd family have raised hypothetical possibilities including homicide, they haven’t provided such evidence, according to the attorney-general’s office statement.
The inquest is being held to determine the cause of Todd’s death and its conclusions can’t be appealed.
Rick Todd has said his son’s death may have been tied to his work at the Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics and connected to transfers of technology to China.
Todd, 31 when he died, was depressed and had visited suicide-related websites, senior state counsel Tai Wei Shyong told the inquest on May 13.
Rick Todd had said the hard drive was accessed after his son’s death and a file was deleted. A Singapore police investigator accessed the drive from a laptop and a temporary file was automatically deleted by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) software when it was closed, the FBI said in its report.
The Singapore investigator determined the hard drive wasn’t relevant to the probe of Todd’s death and returned it to Todd’s family on June 28, a day after accessing it, according to the FBI report.
Amarjit Singh, a lawyer for the Todd family, asked a police officer testifying yesterday if police could have altered material evidence on the case, leading to a flawed conclusion.
Tai, the state lawyer, asked Singh if the questions raised were hypothetical or allegations. Singh replied he was gathering facts.
“Justice must be seen to be done and to be done,” Tai said. “The reputation of Singapore’s justice system is at stake.”
The Coroner’s Inquiry is Shane Truman Todd. CI002014 of 2012. Singapore Subordinate Courts.
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Tan in Singapore at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at email@example.com