Court of Appeal dismisses police, govt's bid to overturn RM450,000 damages award in custodial death case

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal to set aside a RM450,000 damages awarded to a widow and her son over the death of her husband in police custody seven years ago.

Lawyer Haresh Mahadevan, representing M. Vimala Devy and her son Thusataran, told Bernama that the three-man bench chaired by Justice Datuk Lee Swee Seng held that there was no good reason to interfere with the finding of facts made by the Judicial Commissioner.

He said Justice Lee had also ruled that the evidence of injuries sustained by Vimala’s husband M. Segar were irresistible in the light of the evidence by a forensic pathologist.

The other two judges who presided on the bench were Justices Datuk Collin Lawrence Sequerah and Datuk Azizul Azmi Adnan.

Haresh said in the court’s decision, Justice Lee had said the police had refused to provide close circuit television footage on what happened to Segar at the Port Dickson lock-up and interrogation room.

Haresh said Justice Lee also awarded RM15,000 in costs to Vimala and her son.

On Sept 8, 2023, the High Court in Seremban found the defendants had been negligent as they failed to ensure the safety of Segar while in their custody.

Judicial Commissioner Wan Fadhilah Wan Idris awarded Vimala and her son RM200,000 in aggravated damages, RM150,000 for misfeasance in public office by a public servant, RM63,000 for loss of support, RM30,000 for bereavement and RM3,780 for funeral expenses.

In their writ of summons filed in 2020, they named Rozek Azmi, the Port Dickson district police chief, the Port Dickson police station chief, the Negri Sembilan police chief, the Inspector-General of Police and the government as defendants.

In their statement of claim, Vimala and Thusataran said Segar, who worked as a stall helper, and his friend were detained by the police on April 17, 2017 for allegedly being involved in drugs.

A post-mortem examination conducted at Hospital Tuanku Ja’afar found that Segar’s death was caused by, among others, injuries to internal tissues from blunt force trauma.

Lawyer Krishna Dallumal and Yong Young Hui represented Vimala and the son while senior federal counsel Siti Syakimah Ibrahim and federal counsel Syafiq Affandy Hassan represented the police and government. – Bernama