Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Appeal (Singapore)
JudgeChan Sek Keong CJ
Judgment Date27 September 2011
Neutral Citation[2011] SGCA 49
Citation[2011] SGCA 49
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 27 of 2010
Hearing Date27 July 2011
Plaintiff CounselAmolat Singh (Amolat & Partners) and Balvir Singh Gill (B S Gill & Co)
Defendant CounselBala Reddy and Sabrina Choo (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Subject MatterCriminal Law
Published date01 November 2011
Chan Sek Keong CJ (delivering the grounds of decision of the court): Introduction

This is an appeal from the decision of the High Court judge (“the Judge”) in Public Prosecutor v Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam [2011] 2 SLR 830 (“Nagaenthran (HC)”) convicting the appellant, Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam, aged 22 years, of the charge set out below. We dismissed the appeal at the conclusion of the hearing. We now give our grounds of decision.

The appellant was charged as follows:

YOU ARE CHARGED at the instance of the Attorney-General as Public Prosecutor and the charge against you is:

That you, NAGAENTHRAN A/L K DHARMALINGAM, on the 22nd day of April 2009, at or about 7.45 p.m., at the Woodlands Checkpoint Arrival Motorcycle Lane, Singapore, did import into Singapore a controlled drug specified in Class “A” of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, one (01) packet of granular substance containing not less than 42.72 grams of diamorphine, without any authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder and you have thereby committed an offence under section 7 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185.

[emphasis in bold in original]

The Judge found on the evidence that the appellant had actual knowledge of the contents of a packet wrapped in newspaper in his possession (“the Bundle”), and that, in the alternative, the appellant had failed to rebut the presumption of knowledge of the nature of the controlled drug under s 18(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (“MDA”). The Judge further found that the appellant could not rely on the defence of duress in s 94 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed). Accordingly, he convicted the appellant of the offence charged and sentenced him to death as mandated by s 33 of the MDA read together with the Second Schedule to the MDA.


As the facts of this case are set out fully in Nagaenthran (HC), we do not propose to rehearse them. Briefly, at the material time, the appellant was living in a shared apartment in Johor Bahru with some of his friends (including one Kumarsen and Kumarsen’s wife) and one Shalini, whom the appellant claimed to be his girlfriend.

The appellant testified that he met a Chinese man by the name of King on 21 April 2009, and asked King for a loan of RM500 in order to pay for his father’s heart operation on 23 April 2009 in Kuala Lumpur. King agreed. The next day, 22 April 2009, the appellant met King at a food shop in Johor Bahru at about 6.00pm. King handed the appellant what the appellant believed to be a packet of food together with a transparent plastic packet of curry, telling the appellant to deliver those items to a person in Woodlands, Singapore. King gave the appellant a telephone SIM card, and asked the appellant to put the said card into his phone and activate it upon entering Singapore. King also told the appellant to wait in front of a designated “7-Eleven” convenience store, and to give the items to a person in a “dark blue Camry”. After the delivery, the appellant was to return to Malaysia. King told the appellant that he had to complete the delivery of the items before he would lend the RM500 to the appellant.

Just as the appellant was about to leave with the said items, King invited him into his (King’s) car, where he told the appellant that he had changed his mind and that he needed the appellant to deliver something else instead. King handed the appellant the Bundle. King said that the Bundle contained “company product” or “company spares”. King told the appellant that the Bundle had to be tied to the appellant’s thigh for the delivery. According to the appellant, he initially resisted King’s request, but King slapped and punched him, threatening that if he refused to deliver the Bundle, King would “finish” and “kill” Shalini (the appellant’s girlfriend). King made the appellant remove one side of his trousers and raise his leg such that it rested on the dashboard of King’s car. Thereafter, King tied the Bundle around the appellant’s left inner thigh with yellow tape. King again instructed the appellant to go to Singapore and put the SIM card into his phone, and wait in front of the designated “7-Eleven” convenience store. As before, King informed the appellant that a “dark blue Camry” would come, that the person in the said Camry would be wearing blue-coloured spectacles, and that the appellant was to hand the Bundle to that person.

King then sent the appellant to the appellant’s apartment to prepare for the delivery trip. When the appellant alighted from King’s car, the appellant telephoned Kumarsen and told Kumarsen that he had to take some money to Singapore. Kumarsen agreed to give him a ride. The appellant returned to his room in the apartment and put on a pair of trousers which belonged to one Tamilselvam (Kumarsen’s nephew, who was staying in the appellant’s room). Because Tamilselvam was much bigger sized than the appellant, the appellant had to use a belt to secure the fit. According to the appellant, he wore Tamilselvam’s trousers because King had told him to wear bigger trousers as it was important that what was in the Bundle was not damaged. Although Shalini, Tamilselvam and one Ramesh were in the apartment at that time, the appellant testified that he did not tell any of them what King had done or said to him.

Kumarsen rode his motorcycle, with the appellant riding pillion, to the Woodlands Immigration Checkpoint. At about 7.45pm, the appellant and Kumarsen were stopped at the Woodlands Immigration Checkpoint by the passport screening officer and taken to an office. In the office, the appellant called Shalini. The appellant and Kumarsen were thereafter brought to different rooms by various officers of the Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”).

Staff Sergeant Syed Anis Bin Syed Omar Alsree (“SSgt Anis”), a CNB officer, commenced the strip search of the appellant in room C526. During the strip search, the appellant was asked by SSgt Anis to remove his trousers, which he did. At this point, SSgt Anis saw the Bundle secured to the appellant’s left inner thigh with yellow tape over the red pair of boxer briefs that he was wearing. Later, Sergeant Muhd Zaid Bin Adam and Sergeant Shahrulnizam s/o Abdullah (“Sgt Shahrulnizam”) entered the room and SSgt Anis left the room. Sgt Shahrulnizam spoke to the appellant in Tamil, handcuffed him, and then proceeded to remove the Bundle from the appellant’s thigh. While doing so, part of the...

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5 cases
  • Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v PP
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 27 September 2011
    ...a/l K Dharmalingam Plaintiff and Public Prosecutor Defendant [2011] SGCA 49 Chan Sek Keong CJ , Andrew Phang Boon Leong JA and VK Rajah JA Criminal Appeal No 27 of 2010 Court of Appeal Criminal Law—General exceptions—Duress—Appellant importing controlled drug into Singapore under threat tha......
  • Public Prosecutor v Vimalan Shanmugam
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 7 November 2012
    ...of the thing. In support of their contention, the prosecution cited the cases of Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor [2011] SGCA 49 and Dinesh Pillai’s case. In Nagaenthran’s case, the accused had drugs strapped to the thigh and he claimed that he thought the bundles were “co......
  • Thong Ah Fat v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 30 November 2011
    ...should mention that since this appeal was heard, an important decision of this Court, Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v Public Prosecutor [2011] SGCA 49 (“Nagaenthran”), has clarified the position on this issue. In Nagaenthran, this Court stated that (at [23]): In our view, while there may b......
  • Public Prosecutor v Danial Punithanayagam
    • Singapore
    • District Court (Singapore)
    • 12 October 2011
    ...then not be available to the accused. ” (emphasis mine) On 27 September 2011, the Court of Appeal in Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v PP [2011] SGCA 49 decided to dismiss the appeal against Chan J’s decision. Therefore, on appeal, Chan J’s decision to reject the defence of duress was upheld......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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