Benjamin Lim death inquiry: Different accounts of events on day teen died

Benjamin Lim death inquiry: Different accounts of events on day teen died
PHOTO: Wanbao

SINGAPORE - Contradictory accounts of what happened on the day that 14-year-old Benjamin Lim died emerged at a coroner's inquiry into his death held at the State Courts on Tuesday (May 17).

The Secondary 3 schoolboy was found dead at the foot of a block of flats in Yishun on Jan 26. He had been questioned by police over an allegation that he had molested an 11-year-old girl earlier that day.

The Court heard that at about 4.13pm on Jan 26, Benjamin's mother received a call from North View Secondary School's counsellor Karry Lung.

According to Lianhe Wanbao, the school counsellor said that she had conveyed the school's suggestion that Benjamin not attend the camp the next day, as it would "not be that comfortable and he might not eat or sleep well", and that it would be better for him to remain in the company of his family.

Benjamin's mother subsequently agreed with the school's suggestion, Madam Lung said.

However, Benjamin's mother's offered a different account of events. According to her, the school counsellor told her that the school had decided not to allow her son to participate in the camp, and instead wanted him to stay at home and do e-learning.

She then told Benjamin of the school's decision not to allow him to take part in the camp, and he continued to play games on his mobile phone.

Questioning handled sensitively

At the first day of the inquiry, State Counsel Wong Woon Kwong also told the court that the staff at North View Secondary School and the police had ensured that Benjamin was handled sensitively while being questioned.

Upon reviewing closed-circuit television video (CCTV) footage of the incident, five plainclothes officers went to the school on Jan 26 in unmarked cars. A teacher was able to identify Benjamin in the footage from his red-coloured glasses.

According to Lianhe Wanbao, a discipline teacher at the school then went to the canteen and discreetly brought Benjamin to the principal's office.

The principal, Mr Chen Fook Pang, said that the school had taken great care to ensure the teenager was sensitively treated, Channel NewsAsia reported. He said that he had requested for only one of the police officers to question Benjamin, and had also asked to be allowed to sit in during the interview.

The school counsellor, Madam Lung, was also present for the interview. She said that she observed Benjamin appeared slightly stressed but was still coping well. Therefore, she did not intervene and allowed the police officer to continue his questioning.

During the interview, Benjamin said that he may have accidentally touched the girl as he was picking up his mobile phone, which had dropped to the floor.

After the interview, the police decided to bring Benjamin to the police station for further questioning. They allowed him to speak to his mother over the phone before leaving for the police station.

According to The Straits Times, Madam Lung said that she noticed that Benjamin appeared anxious after the phone call, and that his mother could be heard speaking very loudly.

At the police station, an officer recorded Benjamin's statement in an open plan office.

At this point, the boy admitted that he thought the girl was cute and had followed her into the lift.

He said he had then purposely dropped his phone and then brushed his hand against her thigh, Wanbao reported.

According to The Straits Times, Benjamin's family, including his parents and elder brother, were present in the court. The proceedings will continue tomorrow.

What was in the video:

  • Girl enters lift.
  • Benjamin Lim (BL) enters lift.
  • Girl presses 14th storey lift button.
  • BL presses 13th storey lift button.
  • Girl stands at rear right corner of the lift.
  • BL stands at rear left corner of the lift.
  • BL drops his phone on the floor next to the girl.
  • BL bends down and picks up phone using right hand.
  • BL transfers phone from his right hand to his left hand.
  • BL uses his right hand to touch the lower back portion of the girl.* (*This part is disputed by the family.)
  • BL turns and looks at girl.
  • BL walks away from girl while still looking at her.
  • BL walks to lift door.
  • Lift door opens and BL walks out.
  • Girl steps out of the lift and looks outside. The lift moves off then returns to that storey and the girl gets in. She goes to the 14th storey and goes home. BL gets into the lift at 12th storey and exits on first storey.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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