Abdul Rashid and Another v Public Prosecutor

JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date01 December 1993
Neutral Citation[1993] SGCA 90
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 4
Date01 December 1993
Published date19 September 2003
Plaintiff CounselSelva K Naidu (Palakrishnan & Pnrs)
Citation[1993] SGCA 90
Defendant CounselP Suppiah and Sumitra Ragupathy (P Suppiah & Co),Seng Kwang Boon (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
Subject MatterAdmissibility of evidence against accused,Co-accused's testimony,Whether substance analyzed was substance seized,Whether necessary to isolate confession from rest of evidence,Sufficiency of evidence to found conspiracy,Whether can be used to convict accused,Break in chain of evidence,Whether corroboration required,Whether exculpatory words were confession,Inconsistencies in evidence of prosecution witnesses,Proof of evidence,Drug trafficking,Confessions,Abetment by conspiracy,s 30 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1990 Ed),Approach to be adopted at halfway stage and at the end of the trial,s 17 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1990 Ed),Whether wide or narrow construction to be taken,ss 5(a), 12 & 16 Whether statement of co-accused could be used against accused Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185),Whether co-accused's testimony must be rejected in its entirety if his defence is disbelieved by trial judge,Witnesses,Indian authorities on the subject not applicable,Evidence,Confession of co-accused,Criminal Law,Whether doubt raised as to identity of exhibits,Abetment

The first appellant was convicted in the High Court on a capital charge of trafficking by transporting not less than 76.3g of diamorphine on 21 March 1990 from Woodlands Checkpoint to the car park at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road in motor car NL 4807, an offence under s 5(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) (`MDA`). [See PP v Abdul Rashid & Ors [1993] 3 SLR 794 .] The second appellant was convicted in the High Court on a capital charge of abetment of trafficking in that together with one Abdul Rahman Bin Awang (`Awang`) in Singapore and elsewhere in West Malaysia, both had abetted the first appellant in trafficking the above quantity of drugs from Woodlands Checkpoint to the car park at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road in motor car NL 4807, an offence under s 5(a) read with s 12 of the MDA. Both appellants and Awang were jointly tried in the High Court. At the end of the prosecution case, the trial judge called for the defences of both appellants but held that there was no case for Awang to answer and acquitted him. Both appellants now appeal against their convictions and sentences. At the end of the appeal, we dismissed their appeals and now give our reasons for so doing.

Prosecution case

On 21 March 1990 at 8.15am, a team of CNB officers received information that two male Malays would be carrying drugs into Singapore that day, either in a Proton Saga motor car bearing registration No JBP 3885 or in an old model Toyota motor car.

At 9.30am, a Proton Saga bearing the number JBP 3885 arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint.
There were two male Malays in the car who were later ascertained to be the second appellant and Awang. The Proton Saga went through customs unchecked and was trailed by a party of CNB officers. They initially lost sight of the car at the junction of Woodlands Centre Road and Admiralty Road but later located it parked at Blk 2A Woodlands Centre Road. At 11am, Awang returned to the car and was arrested. A search of the vehicle revealed nothing. NO Amme Ithnain (`NO Amme`) questioned Awang as to where his companion was. Awang replied that he was going to fetch his companion who was having a drink with another friend at the coffee stall near the staircase of the nearby Woodlands Food Centre. NO Amme conveyed this information to the rest of the CNB officers.

The CNB officers then proceeded with Awang to the Woodlands Food Centre which was situated at Blk 4A Woodlands Centre Road.
There, at a coffee stall, both appellants were seated beside each other having a drink. Both were arrested. A search of the first appellant produced a bunch of seven keys, two of which were branded `Toyota Motor`. Upon being questioned, the first appellant told NO Mohd Raziff bin Mohd Yousoff (`NO Raziff`) that he had driven into Singapore in motor car NL 4807 which was parked at Block 4A Woodlands Centre Road.

When they went to this car, SNO Chew Woon Hock (`SNO Chew`) asked the first appellant in Malay, ` Ada barang ?
` (`Have anything?`), whereupon he remained silent. When told that his car would be subject to a 100% search and asked again where the ` barang ` (`thing`) was, the first appellant used his head to indicate to SNO Chew the front compartment of his car. SNO Chew used one of the `Toyota Motor` keys to open NL 4807. A search revealed a package taped underneath the dashboard. SNO Chew removed the package, placed it on the front passenger seat and instructed NO Raziff to ask the first appellant what it was. The first appellant remained silent and looked at the second appellant. SNO Chew unwrapped the package which was wrapped in a Chinese newspaper and in it was a package of granular substance. SNO Chew instructed NO Raziff to ask the first appellant what the substance was. The first appellant whispered in Malay to NO Raziff `dadah` (`drugs`). SNO Chew told him to speak louder and the first appellant said in a louder voice `dadah`. Both appellants and Awang were then taken to CNB headquarters.

The first appellant made three statements on 24, 26 and 30 March 1990 to SNO Chew which were interpreted in Malay by Abdul Razak bin Othman, and all of which were admitted without objection by the defence.
The combined effect of all three statements was as follows:

(1) The first appellant worked as a hospital attendant at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johore Bahru. His monthly income was RM475. The second appellant and Awang were his colleagues and he had known each of them for almost ten years.

(2) A week before his arrest, he wanted to borrow RM500 from the second appellant to pay for his house rent as well as his car. The second appellant refused to lend him the money but suggested instead that he do a `job` for him. The first appellant queried him as to what sort of job this would be and the second appellant informed him that it involved smuggling something into Singapore via the Causeway in a few days` time. The second appellant promised him a RM1,000 reward for his services. The first appellant agreed to his suggestion.

(3) On Tuesday, 20 March 1990, at around noon, the first appellant met the second appellant at the hospital, when the second appellant told him to drive his car, NL 4807, to the beach to meet him the following morning at 7am.

(4) On 21 March 1990 at 7am, the first appellant arrived at the beach as instructed. The second appellant arrived later in a Proton Saga JBP 3885 which belonged to Awang. The second appellant passed a package wrapped with newsprint to the first appellant and told him to hide it under the dashboard. The first appellant used some tape to secure the package under the dashboard. The second appellant instructed him to drive his car across the Causeway to Singapore and to meet him at the carpark in front of the Woodlands Food Centre at about 10am to hand over the package to him. The first appellant then proceeded to report for work at the hospital.

(5) At about 10.15am the first appellant crossed the Causeway in NL 4807 and arrived at the carpark in front of the Woodlands Food Centre as planned. He could not see the second appellant but eventually found him on the first floor of the Food Centre. The first appellant sat beside him and asked, `How is it?`, and the second appellant replied that Awang would later collect the package from the first appellant`s car. A few minutes later, both appellants were arrested by CNB officers.

(6) The CNB officers brought the first appellant to NL 4807 and the first appellant indicated to the CNB officer where he had earlier hidden the package. The CNB officer then used a bunch of keys seized from the first appellant to open the car and the package was recovered. The newsprint was removed to reveal a brownish substance. The CNB officer then informed the first appellant that it was `dadah`. The first appellant remained silent and looked at the second appellant who was standing next to him. The second appellant looked down.

(7) On 22 March 1990, both appellants and Awang were jointly charged in court. In court, the first appellant alleged that the second appellant told him to admit that the package containing `dadah` belonged to him. The first appellant refused to admit to this as he did not know its contents when it was handed over to him.

(8) On 29 March 1990, the second appellant and Awang asked the first appellant not to implicate them and further promised that if he admitted that the drugs belonged to him, they would ensure that his family would be well taken care of. The first appellant refused to talk to them.

Abdul Hamid bin Ismail (`Abdul Hamid`), a senior grade hospital attendant at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital, Johore Bahru, was the departmental supervisor of the first and second appellants at the relevant time.
He stated that both appellants had applied for a half day`s leave for the afternoon of 21 March 1990 and he had approved their application. The first appellant had approached him on 20 March 1990 stating that he wanted to visit his sick uncle and the second appellant had approached him on the morning of 21 March 1990 stating that he had personal matters to attend to. Their leave was supposed to commence at 12.45pm on 21 March 1990. However, Abdul Hamid could not find either appellant at the work place after the tea break at 10am.

SNO Chew gave evidence that on 21 March 1990, after seizing the package from under the dashboard of NL 4807, it was taken back to CNB HQ, weighed, sealed and labelled with the word `Toyota` and handed over to Insp Ho Siew Hong for safe keeping.
On 23 March 1990, at about 3.25pm, SNO Chew collected the package from Insp Ho. The movement of the package was reflected in the record kept by the CNB which was admitted as one of the exhibits at the trial. At about 4.10pm the same day, 23 March 1990, SNO Chew handed over the package to Scientific Officer Dr Lee Tong Kooi (`Dr Lee`) of the Department of Scientific Services for analysis. The package was returned by Dr Lee on 23 June 1990. Dr Lee testified that the package which he received from SNO Chew was marked `Toyota` and sealed with a CNB seal No A143875. In the government chemist certificate issued under s 16 of the MDA, he certified the diamorphine content in the package to be not less than 76.3g.

Argument on behalf of first appellant

Chain of possession

Mr Naidu`s entire submission before us centred on the issue of the identity of the exhibit seized from the first appellant`s car.
His submission was that, because of several material discrepancies in the evidence adduced by the prosecution, they had accordingly failed to establish an essential ingredient of the offence, namely, that the substance analyzed by Dr Lee was the same substance contained in the package seized by SNO Chew from the first appellant`s car. The prosecution had therefore failed to establish a prima facie case against the first appellant and even if that hurdle was cleared, at the very least, a reasonable doubt had arisen at the end of the trial as to...

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