Sri Lankan student in Singapore repeatedly breaches quarantine

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SINGAPORE – An incoming Singapore Management University (SMU) student from Sri Lanka who was serving his 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) at Hotel Grand Pacific repeatedly breached his quarantine by leaving his room.

On multiple occasions last August, Mr Nishad Manilka De Fonseka, 20, unlawfully left his room on the 13th storey of the Victoria Street hotel to visit a female friend who was also serving her SHN on the same floor.

He was finally caught on Aug 10 last year when a security officer found his room empty with the door left ajar.

In an inquiry into Mr De Fonseka’s death on Tuesday (Feb 16), investigation officer Victoria Yee told the court that the youth was found motionless, hanging in his room two days later.

Inspector Yee added that it is “strongly suggested” that Mr De Fonseka had killed himself and that he had been worried about the implications of his breached SHN.

She also told State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam that the student was pronounced dead at the scene and there was no reason to suspect foul play.

The court heard that the Sri Lankan arrived in Singapore on Aug 1 last year and was served with an SHN.

Closed-circuit television footage taken from the corridor outside his room was played in court on Tuesday. In it, he could be seen leaving his room on Aug 10 last year before visiting his friend next door.

The court heard that the pair had watched movies on Netflix together.

A security officer went by soon after and saw that Mr De Fonseka’s room was empty, with the door left ajar. The man alerted his colleagues and the door was closed.

Mr De Fonseka left his friend’s room at 11.22pm that evening and found that he could not enter his own room. This was because he had not been given an access card to enter it again.

In the video footage, he could be seen pacing up and down the hotel corridor. His friend later alerted the hotel and staff allowed Mr De Fonseka back into his own room.

SMU was alerted and its senior assistant director of student conduct, Mr Raymond Singh, sent Mr De Fonseka an e-mail to find out more about the situation.

Mr Singh testified on Tuesday and told the court that he had also asked Mr De Fonseka for a written explanation on the matter.

On Aug 12 last year, Mr De Fonseka’s friend alerted the hotel after she failed to contact him.

Mr Dickson Teo, who was the hotel’s duty manager at the time, arrived outside Mr De Fonseka’s room at around 1pm and found that the “do not disturb” light was on.

Mr Teo testified that he knocked on the door and rang the bell but received no answer.

He alerted his colleagues and when they opened the door, they found Mr De Fonseka motionless. They alerted the authorities and he was later pronounced dead.

The state coroner will give her findings at a later date.

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