Public Prosecutor v Abdul Rashid and Others

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeMPH Rubin JC
Judgment Date07 September 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGHC 210
Citation[1993] SGHC 210
Date07 September 1993
Plaintiff CounselHan Cher Kwang and Ng Cheng Thiam (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Subject MatterClose of prosecution's case,How court should approach such evidence,Abetment by conspiracy,Rebutting of presumption,Degree of proof required for defence to be called,Whether exculpatory statements were confession,Whether defence of accused to be called,Jurisdiction of Singapore courts,Inconsistencies in evidence of prosecution witnesses,Conspiracy hatched in Malaysia but offence executed in Singapore,Trafficking in controlled drugs,s 189(1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Complicity,Whether triable in Singapore,Evidence of movement of exhibit and markings on exhibit sufficient proof of no break in chain,Possession,Co-accused's confession,Presumption of knowledge of nature of drug in possession,Exhibit,ss 17 & 30 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1990 Ed),Need for corroboration not rule of law,Criminal conspiracy,Proof of evidence,Coupled with testimony on oath,Confessions,ss 5, 17 & 18 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185),Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Whether substance seized was substance analyzed,Statutory offences,Evidence,Trials,Misuse of Drugs Act,Criminal Law,Break in chain of evidence
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 6 of 1992
Defendant CounselSelva K Naidu (briefed) and A Balasubramaniam (assigned) (Palakrishnan & Pnrs),P Suppiah (P Suppiah & Co) (briefed) and Sumitri Menon (Jansen Menon & Pnrs) (assigned)
Background and charges

Three Malaysians, Abdul Rashid bin Mohamedd (`the first accused`), Abdullah bin A Rahman (`the second accused`) and Abdul Rahman bin Awang (`the third accused`) - all colleagues at the relevant time and in the employ of the Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johore Bahru, Malaysia - were arrested sometime on the morning of 21 March 1990 near the Woodlands Checkpoint around the area close to Blks 2A and 4A Woodlands Centre Road, Singapore. A packet of drugs hidden underneath the dashboard of a Malaysian registered motor vehicle Toyota, bearing registration No NL 4807, driven by the first accused into Singapore was seized. Scientific analysis of the seized drugs (a subject matter of great contention in this case) revealed that the drugs contained not less than 76.3g of diamorphine. In the event, all the three named persons were charged and jointly tried before me on the following charges under the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) (`MDA`).

First accused

That you, Ab Rashid bin Mohamed, on or about 21 March 1990, in Singapore, did traffic in a controlled drug specified in `Class A` of the First Sch to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185), to wit, by transporting a packet of drugs containing not less than 76.3g of diamorphine from Woodlands Checkpoint to the car park at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road in motor car NL 4807 without any authorization under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder and you have thereby committed an offence under s 5(a) punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.



Second accused

That you, Abdullah bin A Rahman, between 20 and 21 March 1990, together with one Abdul Rahman bin Awang in Singapore and elsewhere in West Malaysia, did abet one Ab Rashid bin Mohamed in the commission of an offence of trafficking in a controlled drug specified in `Class A` of the First Sch to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185), when he transported a packet of drugs containing not less than 76.3g of diamorphine from Woodlands Checkpoint to the car park at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road in motor car NL 4807 without any authorization under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under s 5(a) read with s 12 and punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.



Third accused

That you, Abdul Rahman bin Awang, between 20 and 21 March 1990, together with one Abdullah bin A Rahman in Singapore and elsewhere in West Malaysia, did abet one Ab Rashid bin Mohamed in the commission of an offence of trafficking in a controlled drug specified in `Class A` of the First Sch to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185), when he transported a packet of drugs containing not less than 76.3g of diamorphine from Woodlands Checkpoint to the car park at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road in motor car NL 4807 without any authorization under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under s 5(a) read with s 12 and punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.



At the close of the prosecution case, the third accused was acquitted of the charge but the first and second accused were, however, called upon to enter their defence. The first and second accused who elected to give evidence on affirmation were in the result convicted. My grounds follow.

Prosecution case

At about 8.15am on 21 March 1990, a team of officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (`CNB`), acting on information received, arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint to keep a lookout for two male Malays who were expected to carry drugs into Singapore either in a Malaysian Proton Saga bearing registration No JBP 3885 or in an old model Toyota motor car.

At about 9.30am on 21 March 1990, a Malaysian motor vehicle JBP 3885 (Proton Saga) arrived at the customs vehicle checking bay. There were two male Malays in the car. It was later ascertained that the second accused was the passenger whilst the third accused the driver of the vehicle. The vehicle was not checked by any customs official and consequently passed through the customs bay. Narcotics Officers Ng Say Liang (`NO Ng`) (PW14), Goh Seow Thian (`NO Goh`) (PW20), Chong Kim Siak (`NO Chong`) (PW19) and Sukumar Balan (`NO Sukumar`) (PW16) trailed the said motor car whilst Senior Narcotics Officer Chew Woon Hock (`SNO Chew`) (PW21), Narcotics Officers Tan Chee Hwee (`NO Tan`) (PW18) and Mohd Raziff bin Mohd Yusoff (`NO Raziff`) (PW17) remained at the checkpoint.

The pursuers, however, lost sight of their quarry near the junction of Woodlands Centre Road and Admiralty Road. During the ensuing search around the vicinity, the vehicle was seen parked behind Blk 2A Woodlands Centre Road. There was no one inside the parked motor car. At about 10.15am, SNO Chew, Narcotics Officer Amme Ithnain (`NO Amme`) (PW15), NO Tan and NO Raziff joined the team that located the motor vehicle. At about 11.00am, the third accused returned to the vehicle and attempted to drive it away when SNO Chew blocked its passage with a CNB vehicle. The third accused was arrested presently. Nothing incriminating was found in the vehicle.

Upon his arrest, the third accused was questioned by NO Amme in Malay particularly as to the whereabouts of his companion. The third accused replied that he was going to fetch his friend who was having a drink with another friend at the coffee stall near the staircase of the nearby Woodlands Food Centre (p 148 of the verbatim notes).

NO Amme duly communicated to the rest of the CNB officers the information given to him by the third accused. They then proceeded with the third accused to the Woodlands Food Centre which was situated at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road. At the said food centre, at a coffee stall situated close to a staircase, the second accused was seen having a drink with the first accused. The first and second accused were seated beside each other. Both of them were arrested.

Upon the instructions of SNO Chew, all three accused persons were then taken to the Woodlands Checkpoint in three separate vehicles. On the way to the Woodlands Checkpoint, NO Raziff searched the first accused and recovered from his trouser pocket, amongst other things, a bunch of seven keys. Two of them were branded `Toyota Motor`. Upon being questioned, the first accused told NO Raziff that he drove into Singapore in motor vehicle NL 4807 and that it was parked at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road. The CNB team then proceeded to the car park where the first accused led them to his vehicle NL 4807. The second accused was also present at the scene. When the first accused was brought to the vehicle NL 4807, he was asked by SNO Chew in Malay: `Ada barang?` meaning `Any stuff?`. The first accused remained silent. Presently SNO Chew told NO Raziff to inform the first accused that his car would be given a 100% search. SNO Chew at that point of time asked him where the `barang` was. The first accused then used his head to indicate to SNO Chew the front compartment of his car. With one of the keys marked `Toyota Motor`, SNO Chew opened the front left door of the vehicle. A search of the glove compartment did not reveal anything incriminating. SNO Chew then looked under the dashboard and discovered a packet taped underneath it. He then removed the packet, placed it on the front passenger seat and instructed NO Raziff to question the first accused as to what it was. The first accused remained silent and looked at the second accused. SNO Chew unwrapped the packet which was wrapped in a Chinese newspaper and in it was a packet of `granular substance`.

When he saw the packet of granular substance, SNO Chew instructed NO Raziff to ask the first accused what the substance was. The first accused then whispered in Malay to NO Raziff: `dadah` meaning `drugs`. SNO Chew then said: `Speak louder.` At that point of time, the first accused in a louder voice said: `dadah`. SNO Chew seized the packet and the team of CNB officers then left for Woodlands Checkpoint together with the first and second accused. The vehicle NL 4807 was also driven to the checkpoint. At the checkpoint, the CNB team met up with NO Amme and NO Sukumar who were then guarding the third accused. Subsequently, all the CNB officers left the checkpoint with the three accused persons and arrived at CNB headquarters at about 11.50am.

The scene of crime unit arrived at 2.45pm and took eight photographs (P-12 to P-19). Photographs P-18 and P-19 show the seized substance.

At about 3.01pm at the CNB office, SNO Chew weighed the packet of granular substance in the presence of the three accused persons. The weight recorded by SNO Chew was 425.5g. SNO Chew testified that he used a weighing machine which had a needle running round the scale. After weighing, he sealed and marked the drugs as `Toyota`. At about 4.20pm he handed it over to the CNB storekeeper, Inspector Ho Siew Hong (`Inspector Ho`) (PW23) for safe custody. On 23 March 1990 at 3.25pm, SNO Chew collected the said exhibit from Inspector Ho. At about 4.10pm the same day, SNO Chew handed over the substance to Dr Lee Tong Kooi (`Dr Lee`) (PW13) at the Department of Scientific Services (`DSS`) for analysis. After the analysis, the exhibit was returned by Dr Lee to SNO Chew on 23 June 1990 and the same was returned to the CNB store by SNO Chew the same day.

SNO Chew was vigorously cross-examined by defence counsel on the substance seized from motor vehicle NL 4807. He was asked whether the photographs taken of the drugs seized on the day in question showed them as granular or lumpy. SNO Chew agreed that the photographs showed them to be in lumps. He was also asked about the colour of the substance seized. He replied that the said substance was `more to greyish or light-brownish` in colour. He however agreed that it was more greyish than brownish. When he was asked why in the first charge preferred against the accused persons, he described the seized drugs as brownish substance, SNO Chew replied that the word `brownish`...

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