Ching Ling Ka @ Ching Lincoln v Public Prosecutor

JudgeAbdul Rahim B A Jalil
Judgment Date01 April 1995
Neutral Citation[1995] SGDC 1
Published date06 July 2006
CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)

The Accused was after a trial convicted on the following charges:

“DAC 06930/95 (Exhibit P1A)


Ching Ling Ka @ Lincoln Cheng, m/47 yrs IC: S2205072-I

are charged that you, on or about the 31st day of March 1995, at about 8.25 am, at No. 82, Grange Road, The, Colonade, #14-04,Singapore, did have in your possession a controlled drug specified in Class C of the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Cap 185, to Wit. 116 tablets marked “Upjohn 27” and 10 fragments containing triazolam, without authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder and thereby committed an offence under Section 8(a) and punishable under Section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act Cap 185.”

“DAC 11757/95 (Exhibit P2A)


Ching Ling Ka @ Lincoln Cheng

NRIC No. S22050721

are charged that you, between 13 March 1995 and 31 March 1995. did import a medicinal product, to wit, 299 “Roche 10” tablets, without any product licence or import licence, and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 5(2). read with Section 20(1). and punishable under Section 20(5), of the Medicines Act (Cap 176).”

The accused has appealed against his conviction and the sentence imposed on the charge in DAC 06930/95.

The facts in prosecution's case were not in dispute and they are detailed in the Agreed Statement of Facts (Exhibit P6-A) that was read out at the commencement of the trial.

Briefly the facts were as follows:

The accused suffers from insomnia which often results in migrainous headaches and has been prescribed with sleeping tablets for his disorder. Inter alia he has been prescribed with Dormicum, Halcion, Valium and Imovane. The number of tablets prescribed was less than 400 in one year.

On the 31.3.95 at about 8.25 am a party of officers from the CNB raided the accused’s premises at No. 2 Grange Road #14-04. After gaining entry into the premises the controlled drugs and medicinal products mentioned in the two charges were found on a side table beside the bed in the master bedroom. The controlled drugs were in the form of “Upjohn-27” tablets and the medicinal products were in the form of “Roche–10” tablets. The accused who was present during the raid admitted that all the tablets were his.

The controlled drugs and medicinal products were purchased by the accused from one Anthony Whyte in Hongkong between 13.3.95 and 17.3.95 and he brought them to Singapore on the 17.3.95. The accused did not have a product licence or an import licence under s.5(2) of the Medicines Act Chapter 176 for the medicinal products.

In the course of his submissions at the close of the case, counsel for the accused tendered a letter from the Upjohn Co (Hongkong) Ltd (the contents of which was accepted by the Prosecution as correct) to explain the relationship of “Upjohn-27” and “Halcion” with triazolam. Halcion tablets marked as “Upjohn-27” and Halcion tablets without such a marking are manufactured by the Upjohn Company. The former contained 0.5 mg of triazolam whilst Halcion tablets that are not marked as “Upjohn-27” contains 0.125 mg or 0.25 mg of triazolam i.e. between one quarter to half the strength of Upjohn-27. Since 1989 the company has cased to manufacture tablets marked as “Upjohn-27”. Halcion is still being manufactured and can be supplied on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner. In Singapore triazolam is available on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner under the name “Somese”. This too is manufactured by the Upjohn Company and contains 0.25 mg of triazolam.

In his defence the accused who was and is a director of several companies in Singapore explained that for more than 25 years he had been suffering from migraines and because of his work and lifestyle the attacks have become worse. He had to take painkillers and this led to ulcer problems and in addition he had to take sleeping pills in order to achieve instant deep sleep before embarking on the next day’s work.

It was the evidence of the accused that he had been prescribed with, inter alia, Halcion, Valium and Dormicum by his doctors for his sleeping disorder. He has, since 1991, stopped taking Halcion and to date continues to take Dormicum and Valium.

The circumstances under which the accused purchased the drugs and the medicinal products from Anthony Whyte in Hongkong were as follows:

He was in Hongkong on the 13.3.95 when he learnt from a friend that Anthony Whyte had sleeping pills to dispose of. He then contacted Anthony Whyte on the telephone and asked if he had any sleeping pills and also what type. He was told by Anthony Whyte that he had Dormicum, Valium and Halcion. He told Whyte that he was only interested in Dormicum and Valium and that he wanted 200 of each. In response he was told by Whyte that he (accused) had to buy all of Wbyte’s stock or nothing at all and he agreed to buy all that Whyte had. Arrangements were then made for Whyte to deliver the pills to him at his hotel on 17.3.95 at 3.30 pm as be had to check-in at the airport for his flight back to Singapore at 4.00 pm. The latest check-in time was 4.30 pm. Whyte did not deliver the pills on time but was 10 minutes late. Because Whyte was late, he had “just opened the container and looked at the pills. Recognised what they were from shape and colour” Whyte was paid, the pills were put in his suitcase and he brought all of the pills back to Singapore. On returning to Singapore the pills were put on the bedside table where they were eventually found by the CNB party. On the day when his flat was raided he had willingly allowed the officers to search the premises when be was told that they wanted to search the place for controlled drugs.

It was not in dispute that Whyte was not a registered medical practitioner and it was the evidence of the accused that be had decided to buy from Whyte as he did not want his mother to worry about him. According to him it was his mother who, because of his tight schedule, usually obtained his pills for him from the family doctor in Hongkong. His mother used to chide and nag him for taking too much sleeping pills and “so for her peace of mind and out of convenience I thought that it would be easier to buy a large quantity, not a large quantity, a quantity from Mr Wbyte”.

It was also the evidence of the accused that be was never told that Halcion and Somese contained triazolam and that he did not know triazolam was a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act and until his arrest in this case be bad never heard of triazolam.

Whilst it was the case for the defence that the accused had never heard of triazolam and was not aware that it was used to manufacture Halcion and Somese, it was not in dispute that the accused knew that it was unlawful to possess “Upjohn tablets” as he was aware of people being arrested for possession of such tablets.

In respect of the quantity of pills that he had bought from Whyte it was the evidence of the accused that when he purchased the pills from Whyte the quantity that Whyte was selling and the quantity that be was buying was never mentioned. His evidence on this point was as follows:

Q. Tablets from Whyte. You were roughly aware of the number of tablets that were sold to you?

A. Plus or minus 50 from a total of 500 (between 450 to 550).

Q. Were you not in fact aware that the total number was about 800 because Anthony Whyte told you that this was the quantity that he had?

A. He didn’t tell me the quantity as he didn’t know this himself. He showed me the containers and I opened and shook them. To make sure that there were no other pills other than what I wanted. And we both estimated an amount that we never quantified.

Court:Q. I don’t understand. How did you estimate an amount that you did not quantify?

A. We estimated the bulk.

Meaning a rough quantity.

Q. What was the quantity?

A. The number never crossed my mind.

Q. The number never crossed your mind?

A. Crossed my mind that it was a couple of hundreds.

Cross-exmination continues :

Q. Are you positive that Anthony Whyte never told you that the quantity of tablets that he had was about 800?

A. Yes. He never told me. He told me a couple of hundreds.

Q. You are referring to the time when he delivered the drugs i.e. when you were rushing to go to the airport. What about the time when you first spoke to him about what he had?

A. What he told me then was that he had Halcion, Dormicum, Valium. He said that be wanted to dispose of it in one lot He did not tell me the quantity. I did not ask for the quantity. I asked him to come to my office at 3.30 pm. We were to discuss the quantity then. My flight was at 6.00 pm. He arrived late.

Because of the traffic problem, I did not want to miss my plane.

So we didn't have a chance to discuss the quantity in detail.

I was supposed to check in by 4.00 pm. 4.30 pm at the latest That’s all.

Q. As far as you were concerned, the estimate was 500, give or take 50. But not in die region of 800?

A. Never really crossed my mind.

Q. Do you confirm that on or about 8.4.95 at about 11.30 am you went to the CNB and you saw Staff Sgt Abdul Halim who recorded a statement from you?

A. Yes.

Q. Recording ended at about 12.15 pm that same day?

A. About that.

Q. In that statement you said that Anthony Whyte had told you that be had Dormicum, Valium and Halcion in the quantity of about 800?

A. I did say this but I was then confused. By then I was myself aware that the quantity was about 800 as the pills had been counted.

Q. How much did you pay for the tablets i.e. how much did you pay Anthony Whyte?

A. HK$6000/- i.e. about $1200/-.

Q. And how was...

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