SINGAPORE — A 42-year-old police staff sergeant was on Tuesday (8 June) jailed for five months for aiding a suspect in police custody to pervert the course of justice.
Quak Tiong Beng, who has been suspended from service, pleaded guilty at the State Courts to the single charge, which carries a maximum jail term of three-and-a-half years along with a possible fine.
Quak worked for the Central Police Division's custodial branch and his work involved managing the lock-up at the Police Cantonment Complex along New Bridge Road.
The suspect he aided, Casper Ang alias Hong Weiliang, 34, was a funeral director employed by Singapore Bereavement Services. Ang, along with others, were being investigated by the authorities for performing fraudulent credit card transactions totalling some $350,000 involving stolen credit card details. The offences took place between August and December 2018.
Quak first saw Ang in person in May 2017, while Ang was at the lock-up waiting for a bailor for an outstanding warrant of arrest relating to a parking offence. The officer recognised Ang as he followed the latter on the live video streaming app BIGO. The two men did not exchange contact details or keep in touch after the encounter.
Then in April 2019, Ang was arrested in relation to the fraudulent credit card transactions and held in remand at the Police Cantonment Complex. There, he met Quak again.
On 23 April, Ang asked Quak to help him make a phone call to an accomplice in relation to the investigation. Ang wanted the accomplice to feign ignorance about the identity of a person, when questioned by investigators.
Quak told Ang that he could not make any promises. But just 15 minutes later, the errant officer conveyed the information to Ang's accomplice, taking the effort to make the call in an area where he could not be seen by CCTV cameras. Afterwards, Quak told Ang that he had made the call.
Unbeknownst to Quak, the person he called was in the middle of questioning by an investigator. The accomplice, Sae Pang Yan Shuo, had also put the phone on speaker mode. Quak's instructions for Sae to lie to the police were heard by the investigator.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Zhi Jie ask for five months' jail for the "gross abuse of trust and the deleterious effect on the public perception of the integrity of the SPF (Singapore Police Force) and its officers.
"The present case concerns the sordid tale of a serving police officer who had grossly abused the trust reposed in him by seeking to tamper with witness testimony in investigations into a large-scale fraudulent scheme. A deterrent message must be sent that such offences that compromise the integrity of the Singapore Police Force and frustrate its mission of preventing, deterring, and detecting crime will not be tolerated," said DPP Tay.
The prosecutor added, "Quak’s offending has besmirched the hard-won reputation of law enforcement agencies...this honourable court must signal the stark disapprobation that Quak’s conduct deserves in sending a clear message that persons who commit similar offences can expect to heavily sanctioned."
In a press release after Quak was sentenced, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, which handled the case, said, "Law enforcement officers are expected to maintain the highest standards of integrity and uphold justice. Those who pervert the course of justice must bear the full weight of the law."
The maximum punishment for perverting the course of justice is up to seven years' jail and a fine. A person in Quak's position who aids someone else to pervert the course of justice can jailed for up to three-and-a-half years and also fined.
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