In August 2022, a shocking incident occurred when 23-year-old Chinese national Zhao Mingjian was found dead at the base of his condominium.
State Coroner Adam Nakhoda delivered his findings into Zhao’s death in court earlier today (12 January), ruling it as a misadventure, according to Channel NewsAsia.
Before the Fall: A Life in Transition
Zhao, a 33-year-old Biomedical Engineering graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), had recently embarked on his engineering career at Illumina Singapore when he fell from the 15th floor of his condominium in August 2022.
He landed on the grass patch at the foot of the building and suffered severe traumatic injuries before being conveyed to the hospital, but ultimately couldn’t be resuscitated.
The court revealed that there was no credible evidence to support the claims of third-party involvement after Zhao’s mother, refusing to believe that he had taken his own life, raised concerns about two men who were allegedly seen at the lift lobby of the condo on the day her son fell to his death, as well as highlighting the comments made by his friends during his funeral.
The notion of two strangers at the condo came from a neighbor’s statement, but the coroner deemed it as “merely idle gossip.”
Furthermore, comments made by Zhao’s friends at the funeral were considered irrelevant to the circumstances surrounding his fall.
The court heard about Zhao’s relationship issues, particularly involving a fellow NUS graduate named Ms QAX, with whom he got close to after they met during an NUS dance CCA in 2022.
She said that she believed Zhao was romantically interested in her but never acted on his feelings.
On 12 August, Zhao, QAX and a few friends went to drink alcohol at Clarke Quay, and Zhao’s mother advised him not to drink because he had a fever and drinking was bad for the liver.
The next morning, Zhao returned home and told him mother that QAX had allegedly shown him a middle finger, to which his mother then told him to stop seeing QAX if he was not comfortable with her, after which he then left all the dance CCA group chats that he was in; however, he later rejoined the group chats.
Zhao’s father , who was working in China at the time, added that he spoke with his son after his drinking session at Clarke Quay. The older Zhao said that his son told him that he believed QAX reciprocated his feelings for her, to which the father then told him that he needed to be better than the rest of his friends to win her over.
On 14 August, Zhao’s sister brought him out to watch a movie to cheer him up, because she knew that he was having problems pertaining to relationship issues.
She testified in court that their mother would pressure him to study harder, but he never mentioned that he felt controlled or restricted in his life.
The Day He Fell To His Death
On the day of the incident, 17 August, Zhao’s mother and sister saw him at home that morning, as he knocked on his sister’s bedroom door and told her that he had realised something about “people’s realisation and trust issues”.
CCTV footage captured Zhao leaving the condominium in gym attire around 1 pm. He fell from the balcony at approximately 3:45 pm, even though he was not caught on CCTV going back to the condominium.
However, this might have been attributed to a CCTV camera at the condo malfunctioning at the time.
At 3.45pm, a resident living opposite the condo heard someone screaming loudly and a loud thud, before alerting the police.
Police officers later noticed that the front door to Zhao’s unit was open but his gate was locked, before later entering the unit with Zhao’s sister.
They noticed that the sliding door to the unit’s balcony was open, as well as a pair of slippers; with one slipper near the balcony and another on a pot of flowers. However, no signs of struggle were found at the scene.
While there were searches related to harming oneself on Zhao’s phone, the coroner emphasized that these were not conclusive evidence of intent.
The court acknowledged an incident during an outing at Clarke Quay but found no indication that it led Zhao to take his own life. The coroner couldn’t conclusively establish whether Zhao jumped with the intention to end his life or fell accidentally, but there was no evidence suggesting foul play as the coroner expressed condolences to the Zhao family.