Suicide 'clear' in death of US scientist, Singapore inquest told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 2:00am


Lawyers for the Singapore government told a coroner's inquest yesterday that an American scientist found hanged last year killed himself and was not murdered, as his family claims.

Summing up state agencies' findings on the death of electronics engineer Shane Todd, they said "it is clear … that the medical cause of Shane's death was asphyxia due to hanging".

The coroner's verdict, which cannot be appealed, is scheduled to be handed down on July 8.

Todd's family stormed out of the hearings on May 21, saying they had "lost faith" in the proceedings and describing it as one-sided. They later said they may have the body exhumed in California for further tests.

The Singapore government lawyers cited suicide notes left by Todd on his laptop computer, a psychiatrist's testimony that he suffered from depression, and a browsing history showing he accessed suicide websites before his death.

"The conspicuous absence of any evidence to support the next-of-kin's homicide theory must be viewed in juxtaposition with the overwhelming evidence pointing inexorably towards suicide," said a summary read in court by senior state counsel Tai Wei Shyong. He concluded that the "homicide case theory is entirely misplaced and unfounded, and that Shane's death was a suicide".

In statements to the inquest, Todd's parents said he feared he was being made to compromise US national security in a secret project involving a Chinese telecom firm accused of international espionage and a state-linked Singapore institute that employed their son.