Chua Poh Kiat Anothony v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
Judgment Date13 May 1998
Date13 May 1998
Docket NumberMagistrate's Appeal No 238 of 1997
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Chua Poh Kiat Anthony
Plaintiff
and
Public Prosecutor
Defendant

[1998] SGHC 418

Yong Pung How CJ

Magistrate's Appeal No 238 of 1997

High Court

Criminal Law–Statutory offences–Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Rev Ed)–Accused giving controlled drug to another–Whether accused trafficking under s 5 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Rev Ed)–Sections 5 (1) (a), 5 (2), 33 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Rev Ed)–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Sentencing–Conviction for trafficking in controlled drug–Previous conviction for drug offences–Whether deterrent sentence appropriate–Criminal Procedure and Sentencing–Voir dire–Police statements of accomplice implicating accused–Accomplice repudiating statements at trial–Whether statements voluntary and admissible–Section 122 (5) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed)–Evidence–Weight of evidence–Police statements of accomplice implicating accused–Weight of such evidence–Evidence–Witnesses–Police statements of accomplice implicating accused–Whether to treat accomplice evidence with caution–Sections 116 illustration (b) and 135 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed)

The accused was charged for an offence under s 5 (1) (a) and punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Rev Ed) (“the Act”) for trafficking in a controlled drug by giving one ecstasy tablet to Chua. Chua had given two police statements implicating the accused as the giver of the drug. At the trial, Chua repudiated the statements. The statements were admitted in evidence after the district judge ruled in a voir dire that they were voluntarily given. The district judge convicted and sentenced the accused to six years' imprisonment and five strokes of the cane. The accused appealed against the conviction and sentence. Three issues were considered on appeal: (a) the admissibility of Chua's two statements; (b) whether Chua's evidence should be treated with caution because he was an accomplice; and (c) whether the accused was guilty under s 5 of the Act.

Held, dismissing the appeal:

(1) Applying the test of voluntariness espoused in s 122 (5) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) and the principles therein, Chua's two statements to the police were made voluntarily. There was no evidence of inducement, threat or promise when he made the statements. With respect to Chua's first statement, although his urine sample showed traces of amphetamine, there was no evidence to suggest that he was so drugged or intoxicated as to be incoherent. Chua was not in a state that his mind did not go with the statement: at [13] and [14].

(2) The combined effect of s 135 and illustration (b) to s 116 of the Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) was that the court could convict an accused based on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice, but should still treat such evidence with caution as the accomplice might, not must, be presumed unworthy of credit. The court was required to scrutinise such evidence carefully. However, accomplice evidence should be given the same weight as any other evidence so long as it was shown that the evidence was reliable from the circumstances of the case. In this case, there was a dearth of evidence to doubt the reliability and truth of Chua's two statements. Thus, there was no reason to give it less weight than the evidence of other prosecution witnesses: at [15] and [16].

(3) On the evidence, it was proved that the accused had given a controlled drug to another person and that constituted trafficking under s 5: at [17] and [18].

(4) The sentence was not too severe in the light of the fact that the accused had a previous conviction for drug consumption and possession. The sentence should be a deterrent one such that it might prevent the accused from committing similar or more serious offences in the future. In addition, a strong message had to be sent to the public that such drug offences would be taken very seriously, especially as these forms of drug consumption and trafficking were on the rise among youths: at [22].

Garnam Singh v PP [1994] 1 SLR (R) 1044; [1994] 2 SLR 243 (folld)

Kwang Boon Keong Peter v PP [1998] 2 SLR (R) 211; [1998] 2 SLR 592 (folld)

Lim Seng Chuan v PP [1974-1976] SLR (R) 499; [1975-1977] SLR 136 (refd)

Muhammad Jefrry v PP [1996] 2 SLR (R) 738; [1997] 1 SLR 197 (folld)

PP v Dahalan bin Ladaewa [1995] 2 SLR (R) 124; [1996] 1 SLR 783 (folld)

Wong Kam Ming v R [1980] AC 247 (refd)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) s 122 (5) (consd);s 122 (6)

Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) ss 116 illustration (b), 135 (consd)

Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Ed) ss 5, 33 (consd)

Dixon Ng (Gabriel Peter & Partners) for the appellant

Luke Tan Loke Yong (Deputy Public Prosecutor) for the respondent.

Yong Pung How CJ

1 This appeal arises out of the conviction of the appellant by District Judge Khoo Oon Soo under s 5 (1) (a) and punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1997 Rev Ed) (“the Act”) for trafficking in a controlled drug specified in Class A of the Act by giving...

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2 books & journal articles
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    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2012, December 2012
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