“We will work closely with Interpol to locate the two of them and bring them to justice,” the police told The New Paper on 15 February. The police was referring to New Zealander Robert Stephen Dahlberg and Briton Robert James Springall, both of whom fled Singapore last year, after having been involved in an assault case in 2010. (See story here and here.)
Two of the victims of the assault, Paul Liew and Laurence Wong, had spoken up about the way the police have handled the case and raised questions about the length of time it has taken to bring the assailants, including Australian Nathan Robert Miller, to justice. Miller has since been sentenced to 3 weeks jail and is currently serving his sentence.
The police told the New Paper:
“We acknowledge that the case took a significant amount of time to be completed and are conducting an internal inquiry to establish the full facts of how the case was handled. If there have been any lapses, or any officers are found to have been professionally lacking or negligent in carrying out their duties, disciplinary action will be taken against them.”
Dahlberg was granted permission to leave Singapore for London and Hong Kong from 11 to 29 July last year. His bail was set at S$25,000. Dahlberg absconded while he was away on the trips.
Springall had applied to leave Singapore for the United States in August last year. The courts granted his request and his bail was doubled from S$6,000. He left Singapore from 25 August to 5 September last year. He returned to Singapore on 5 September and was supposed to surrender his passport to the authorities, but he failed to do so.
In December, he flew out of Singapore again and absconded.
Warrant of arrests have been issued for both men.
Mr Wong said, “With this news from the police, I am satisfied. I am very surprised that the police force will admit their mistakes. I am glad that they will set an inquiry board. The act and the thought that they want to make things right and to make sure that the officers who didn’t do their jobs are punished, it shows accountability on the police’s part.”
Mr Liew told TNP, “Now, at least, something is being done to bring back those two men.”
Still, Mr Wong is disappointed with how the entire case was handled, especially the fact that 2 of the assailants had been able to flee the country. “If this is the police force and they cannot even hold on to 2 people out of 3,” Mr Wong says, “it is not rocket science that a glitch has happened somewhere. I believe it is a case of mismanagement. Somebody who’s responsible is not doing his job.”
While he is appreciative that the police are taking the necessary action with regards to both the capture of the 2 men and addressing its internal failings, Mr Wong hopes that the police will inform him and the other victims of the assault through an official notification.
“From my experience with the police, they have yet to inform me that this is what they want to do,” Mr Liew says. “It’s still their responsibility to officially inform me and all the victims collectively. I am still waiting for the police to give me an official notification. I cannot rely on the news.”
Nonetheless, his search for justice continues and he says he is willing to wait however long it takes for justice to be served on the assailants.
“If the police need to take another 3 or 5 or 10 years, do it. It doesn’t matter. I hope they do not slacken and make the mistake again.”
While they are glad the police is taking the matter seriously now, there remains questions which need to be answered. For example, how did Springall manage to flee while out on bail? “The police should have taken his passport the moment he returned to Singapore,” Mr Liew says. “And how did he manage to board a plane and leave? These are questions which need to be answered.”