Toluene is a solvent normally present in substances such as glue and thinner and the court heard that a plastic bag containing a yellowish substance was found in the toilet cubicle of the Chinatown coffee shop where the death occurred. Mr Kan's death was ruled a misadventure by State Coroner Imran Hamid.
While there have been several cases of addicts drowning or falling to the death from buildings after abusing inhalants, death by toluene toxicity is very rare. The last reported case was nearly 10 years ago when Mr Loh You Hwa, a 26-year-old Malaysian, was found dead in the back seat of his car in September 2001, with a plastic container over his head.
Tests by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) revealed that Mr Loh had abused inhalants that contained toluene and died after breathing too much of it in the enclosed car. His death was also ruled a misadventure.
Investigating officer Yow Kien Seng told the inquiry that in Mr Kan's case, workers of the K88 coffee shop in Banda Street found a toilet cubicle occupied for a suspiciously long time at about 6.40pm on July 11, 2010. When they forced open its door, they found a body on the toilet bowl with one hand on the floor.
Inspector Yow also said that police officers found no identification on the body. However, a fingerprint check revealed that the dead man was Mr Kan. Investigations then revealed that he had a history of inhalant abuse offences that stretched back till 1990 and had been first admitted to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) a year later for chronic inhalant abuse.