Lim Choon Chye v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date28 April 1994
Neutral Citation[1994] SGCA 63
Citation[1994] SGCA 63
Defendant CounselLee Sing Lit and Low Cheong Yeow (Deputy Public Prosecutors)
Plaintiff CounselSant Singh (Chor Pee & Co) and Chan Eng Thai (Jan Tan & Chan)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 77 of 1993
Date28 April 1994
Subject MatterDuplicitous charge,Criminal Law,Trafficking in controlled drugs,s 121(1) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Charge,Whether charge so widely framed as to cause appellant injustice,Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185),Whether representation constituted inducement to accused to give his s 121(1) statements subsequently,Questioning related to other drug activities unconnected with charge,Admissibility,Whether such reliance erroneous,Whether trial judge relied on appellant's s 121(1) statements to reject appellant's defence at trial,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,s 121 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68),Statements,Alleged representation to accused during questioning that information on other drug activities would not be recorded,Statutory offences,Misuse of Drugs Act,Accused questioned by narcotics officers prior to recording of s 121(1) statements relating to charge against him,Doubt as to what offence committed,Charge against appellant alleged trafficking 'by offering to sell, give, distribute or deliver, a controlled drug',s 17 Whether charge duplicitous,Inducement

The appellant was charged in the High Court as follows:

You, Lim Choon Chye, are charged that you on or about 7 July 1992 between 5.42pm and 5.50pm at Block 188, Boon Lay Drive #10-298, Singapore, did traffic in, by offering to sell, give, distribute or deliver, a controlled drug specified in Class `A` of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) to wit, 164 packets and 1 straw of substance containing not less than 1728.87g of diamorphine, which were in your possession at the said premises without any authorization under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby, by virtue of s 17 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, committed an offence under s 5(a) punishable under s 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185).

At the close of the prosecution case, the learned trial judge found that a prima facie case had been established against the appellant in respect of the above charge.
On being called to enter upon his defence, the appellant elected to testify. The learned trial judge held at the conclusion of the trial that the charge had been proved against him beyond a reasonable doubt and accordingly convicted him. He appealed against the conviction. Having heard submissions from appellant`s counsel we dismissed the appeal and now give our reasons.

The facts

The facts of the case are as follows. On 7 July 1992 a group of six reservist officers from the Vigilante Corps and the Special Constabulary were on an anti-crime foot patrol in the vicinity of Blocks 185 to 191, Boon Lay Drive. At about 5.05pm, two of the officers, VC Low Swee Hua (`VC Low`) and SC Bohari bin Mahat (`SC Bohari`), observed the appellant walking across the car park between Blocks 185 and 187, together with another male Chinese. VC Low and SC Bohari testified at trial that the appellant walked towards the main road while the other male Chinese proceeded to a green car parked in the car park. He was seen taking a bag from the front passenger seat of the car, after which he walked towards the main road where the appellant was standing. The two men then walked away and were lost to sight. However the male Chinese returned to the car park moments later, no longer carrying the bag he had taken from the green car. He was stopped by SC Oh Tiong Beng (`SC Oh`) and identified as one Ong Boon Tee. After they had recorded his particulars, the officers released him.

In the meantime VC Low and SC Bohari had caught sight of the appellant again, this time at the corner of Block 188.
On spotting the officers, the appellant turned back towards Block 188 with a haste that aroused the suspicions of the officers. They informed SC Oh and also VC Sagayadas s/o Thomas (`VC Sagayadas`) who trailed the appellant to flat #10-298 on the tenth floor of Block 188. The appellant was inside the rear room of the flat, next to a cupboard in the room. When directed by SC Oh and VC Sagayadas to come out of the room, he did so only after some delay and while the officers were checking his particulars with their Operations Room, he suddenly bolted. He was finally arrested on the ground floor of Block 188 after a brief but violent struggle.

Upon the appellant`s arrest, the following items were recovered from the rear room of flat #10-298: a total of 164 packets and one straw containing a powdery/granular substance; a dark blue bag; empty plastic sachets of different sizes; four match boxes; a box of candles; a glass bottle with some papers; a pen knife; and a plastic spoon.
The powdery/granular substance found in the packets and in the straw was subsequently discovered upon analysis to be diamorphine. As for the items such as the plastic sachets and the match boxes, evidence was led by the prosecution at trial to demonstrate that these items constituted paraphernalia connected with drug trafficking activities.

The prosecution also adduced evidence at trial from the owners of flat #10-298, one Keow Chye @ Chin Swee Sang (`Keow`) and his wife Lim Ah Kian (`Lim`).
They testified that they had rented the rear room of the flat to the appellant and that he had taken possession of it on 1 July 1992. Neither Keow nor Lim knew what the appellant did in the rear room. Both stated that they and their other family members did not enter the rear room after it had been rented out to the appellant.

The prosecution further relied on two statements made by the appellant pursuant to s 121(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), one on 17 July 1992 (P106) and the other on 18 July 1992 (P107).
The appellant contended that the statements were inadmissible, having been made only as a result of various threats and inducements issued to him by the investigating officer and the interrogating officers. The learned trial judge, following a voir dire, admitted both statements as part of the prosecution evidence.

The relevant extracts from P106 ran as follows:

(20) : During one of the transactions with Ah Boon earlier on, he told me to look for a rented room in the vicinity of Jurong as this was the place Ah Boon operated ... So on 10 June 1992 I responded to an advertisement for renting a room at Blk 188 Boon Lay Drive ... Miss Fui Lin called me and informed me that the flat occupants were ( sic ) be in and I could view the room.

(21) : At about 7.45 on that night ... we met a couple and they showed me the rear room which was empty. I was told the rent for the room was $300 per month. I paid a deposit of $100 on that night and told the couple that I would be shifting in the next night.

(22) : On 1 July 1992 ... I went to Blk 188 Boon Lay Drive #10-298 and the couple gave me three keys ... for the iron gate, main door and my room door. I paid an advance of two months` rent ...

In P107 the appellant went on to describe the items which he shifted into the rear room on 2 July 1992:

(23) : On 2 July 1992 at about 2.30pm I engaged a house remover service to shift my things from the room at Geylang to the new rented flat at Blk 188 Boon Lay Drive #10-298. I paid $50 for the service. The things removed from the store at Geylang were one wooden cupboard with five doors and a small fridge. There was a set of keys for each shelf door. I locked up the second and third shelf doors and kept the keys in my possession. Inside the two shelves were a total of 13 paper bundles of heroin (one pound packing); 7 paper bundles of heroin (half a pound packing); 133 sachets of heroin (7.5 gm); one loose packet of heroin and a long straw of heroin. The last two items were usually used as a sample during the negotiation for a drug deal. The half a pound packing was converted by me under the instruction of Ah Boon just in case some buyers wished to buy half pound of heroin.

(24) : The items were placed in the rear room of Blk 188 Boon Lay Drive #10-298 without the knowledge of the flat occupants. After which I locked the second shelf placed the keys to it inside the third shelf and locked it. I kept the third shelf keys together with the bunch of keys to the said flat as given earlier by the flat`s owner on 1 July 1992.

The remaining paragraphs of P107 elaborated on the appellant`s meeting with Ah Boon on 7 July 1992, this apparently being the male Chinese the officers had seen him with on that day.
The appellant stated that he had met Ah Boon upon the latter`s instructions, at about 5pm on 7 July 1992 at Boon Lay Theatre. He described how they had...

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1 cases
  • Lim Choon Chye v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 30 July 1994
    ...court on 15 March 1994 after it had heard the submissions of counsel. A report of the grounds of judgment is at Lim Choon Chye v PP [1994] 2 SLR (R) 193. Subsequently the applicant filed this application seeking leave to adduce fresh evidence despite the fact that he had earlier appealed un......

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