Ex-lawyer found unresponsive in his jail cell died of 'natural disease process': State Coroner

Shaffiq Alkhatib
The Straits Times
August 5, 2021

A former lawyer who was found unresponsive in his prison cell last October, about a week after being convicted for criminal breach of trust, died of "a natural disease process", said State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam in her findings on Wednesday (Aug 4).

She also said there was no basis to suspect foul play in the death of Zaminder Singh Gill, 57, and that a forensic pathologist certified that he had died of hypertensive heart disease.

Gill was a lawyer when he collected legal fees totalling more than $31,000 from clients but did not deposit the monies into his firm's accounts.

He then transferred the monies to his personal bank account and used his ill-gotten gains for family expenses.

The Singaporean was arrested in October 2019 and was remanded in prison, as he was unable to raise bail.

Gill was still in remand on Aug 19 last year when his electrocardiogram - a test that measures the heart's electrical activity - showed an abnormality.

He was then referred to the emergency department of Changi General Hospital (CGH), where he was assessed and advised to keep his appointment with a cardiologist the following month.

On Sept 28 last year, he was sentenced to two years and three months' jail after he pleaded guilty to five counts of criminal breach of trust as an attorney.

Gill went for another test at the CGH Department of Cardiology two days later and was admitted after he complained of chest pain.

The State Coroner said in her findings: "During this admission, he was diagnosed with congestive cardiac failure with poor heart function. However, his angiogram revealed normal coronaries."

Gill was started on medication and was discharged from CGH on Oct 2 last year. He was also given a follow-up appointment on May 14 this year for further tests.

But three days after his discharge, he was found unresponsive in his cell.

State Coroner Kamala said: "The CCTV footage showed that on the morning of Oct 5 last year, Mr Zaminder made slight and what appeared to be normal body movements before he fell still.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary about these movements. For all intents and purposes, Mr Zaminder appeared to have fallen asleep again on his mattress."

Prison officers then performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on him.

A nurse later took over the CPR efforts and continued doing so until a medical team arrived at the scene.

The team then used a bag mask to pump oxygen into Gill's lungs and paramedics took over the resuscitation efforts when an ambulance arrived.

Gill was rushed to CGH and was declared dead at around 9am that day.

The Straits Times

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