Man jailed for stealing bag from dead person

SINGAPORE: After discovering a 22-year-old man lying motionless at the foot of a Housing Board block in a suicide case, a man stole the dead person’s haversack.

He retrieved several electronic devices from the bag and read through the man’s notebooks, including a suicide note. 

Because he discarded the handwritten note and reset the dead man’s handphones to their factory settings, the police lost evidence in their investigations into the man’s death.

Ng Hoe Ghee, 52, was sentenced to four months and four weeks’ jail on Wednesday (Feb 7) for his crimes.

He pleaded guilty to one charge each of dishonest misappropriation of property and dishonest misappropriation of a deceased person’s property, with other charges taken into consideration.


The court heard that Ng was near a building – the exact address was redacted from court documents – at about 1.20pm on Aug 12 last year when he saw a man lying at the foot of a block.

The man had multiple injuries on his face and body. 

Ng picked up some cardboard nearby and used it to cover the body. He then took the dead man’s wallet, which had fallen nearby.

Soon after, police officers arrived at the block in response to a call about the death.

Ng told the police what he had observed and handed the wallet to them. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the man dead.

Investigations revealed that the man had jumped from a high level at the block after visiting a family member. He was seen carrying a black haversack with his personal belongings.

Ng, who was allowed by the police to leave the scene, went to the 15th floor of the block and walked up the stairs as he was curious to find out which floor the man had jumped from.

On a higher floor, Ng saw the dead man’s black haversack. He took it, hid it in a box and stacked it with another box before hiding the pile outside his father’s flat.

The next day, Ng retrieved the haversack and went through its contents, finding a laptop, two handphones, notebooks and other items.

He browsed through the books and found a note written by the deceased, which stated that he was “feeling pain and was struggling with his belief and faith”.

The dead man also wrote that he “felt that he was haunted by something or someone”.

Ng threw away the note and other items in the bag, keeping only the electronics. As he could not access the password-protected phones, he paid someone S$70 to unlock them.

The person, who is not identified in court documents, carried out a factory reset of both phones and unlocked them.

Ng discarded the SIM cards found in both phones and began using one of them. The laptop was also password-protected.

Ng kept the haversack with the stolen items on him wherever he went.

Meanwhile, the police had made multiple searches at the block but could not find the dead man’s bag. They tried to locate Ng to help them but could not, so a police gazette was issued against him to find him.

Police officers on foot patrol in Jurong East on Sep 7 approached Ng for a routine check and realised a police gazette had been issued against him.

The officers noticed the phone Ng was using, but Ng said he had borrowed it from a storekeeper.

He was referred to the investigating officer on the dead man’s case and the stolen items were recovered.

Because the phones had been reset and the suicide note had been discarded, the police were unable to obtain information from these items to assist in their investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death.

Ng also admitted to a separate occasion of taking a stranger’s phone that had dropped on the floor.

The prosecution sought jail for Ng ranging from four months and two weeks to six months and four weeks.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Colin Ng said there was a dearth of reported decisions involving dishonest misappropriation of a dead person’s property.

There were only three such cases before the courts between 2001 and November 2023, he said. The sentencing statistics show that jail terms were meted out, with a mean jail term of 15.7 weeks and a median jail term of 17.1 weeks.

In his mitigation, Ng apologised for what he did and cited financial strain. He said he saw that the dead man was struggling and told himself that “this kind of thing” should not be released or known.

For dishonest misappropriation from a dead person, he could have been jailed for up to three years and fined.

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