Man restrained by passers-by died of 'natural disease process'
Medical condition, stress likely contributed to alleged upskirter's death: Coroner
An underlying medical condition and the stress of being chased and restrained likely contributed to the death of a man who was pinned down by members of the public after he was caught allegedly taking upskirt photos in Little India last year.
An inquiry into Mr Andrew Ho Chee Meng's death found the five men who apprehended him did not use excessive force and there was no basis to suspect foul play.
State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam said Mr Ho was found to have died from hypothyroid cardiomyopathy, a "natural disease process".
Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body, and can lead to heart failure.
According to findings dated Sept 11, Mr Ng Kim Tong had caught Mr Ho, 46, trying to take an upskirt photo of a woman while on an escalator in Little India MRT station at about 12.40pm on Nov 1 last year.
Mr Ng chased after Mr Ho, who tried to escape, and he was joined by two others, Mr Nardozi Thierry and Mr Rudy Iskandar Khan.
The trio managed to detain Mr Ho on the pavement in nearby Niven Road after a 200m pursuit, and pinned the man down while he was in a prone position after he struggled and fell.
They held on to Mr Ho's limbs and Mr Nardozi, who had placed his knee on the back of the man's thighs, took away his phone, which was later found to contain 47 upskirt photos.
Two other men, Mr Leong Cheng Fong and Mr Racmat Hidayattullah Hasbullah - Mr Rudy's brother - also helped restrain Mr Ho, who at this point had started to vomit.
At about 12.55pm, police officers arrived and found Mr Ho to be unresponsive.
Unable to detect a pulse, two officers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him before an ambulance arrived and a paramedic pronounced him dead at the scene.
The forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Mr Ho said he had hypothyroidism, which makes the heart slow to recover from one contraction to the next, and Mr Ho had a history of not taking his medication for this condition.
This, coupled with the "traumatic, stressful condition" that Mr Ho was involved in, may have caused cardiac stress, an irregular heart rhythm and death, said the pathologist.
He had external injuries to his limbs and chest, but State Coroner Kamala said they were superficial.
Mr Ho's cousin was initially concerned if Mr Ho had been assaulted before his death but had no further concerns after the findings.
While State Coroner Kamala commended the efforts to apprehend Mr Ho, she noted that the five men did not try to re-position or check on him even though they saw he had vomited.
They also did not notice or pay attention to the fact that Mr Ho stopped struggling and was motionless for some three minutes.
She said: "The witnesses were obviously unaware of the medical risks associated with methods of restraint or the need to continually monitor as a means of mitigating that risk.
"Public participation in crime prevention efforts is necessary and ought to be encouraged. It may be prudent, however, to promote reporting to the police or seeking police assistance as the preferred and safer option."