Phua Ting Yong v Public Prosecutor

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeVictor Yeo Khee Eng
Judgment Date28 March 2005
Neutral Citation[2005] SGDC 75
Citation[2005] SGDC 75
Publication Date13 April 2005
Plaintiff CounselLeong Wing Tuck (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Defendant CounselPeter Cuthbert Low (Peter Low, Tang and Belinda Ang)
SubjectCriminal Law,Statutory offences,Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 1998 Rev Ed),Trafficking of drugs,Possession of drugs,Consumption of drugs,Permitting premises to be used for consumption of drugs

28 March 2005

District Judge Victor Yeo Khee Eng:

Background and Charges

This is an appeal against conviction and sentence. The accused was charged with the following: -

2. First Charge (‘Trafficking charge’):

“that you, on the 9th day of June 2004, at about 11.25pm, at Papillion Condominium unit #18-03, at No. 8 Jalan Rama Rama, Singapore, did traffic in a controlled drug specified in Class A of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, by having in your possession for the purpose of trafficking, three (3) packets containing 1.11 grams of crystalline substance, which was analysed and found to contain 0.86 grams of Methamphetamine, without authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 5(1)(a) read with section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185.”

Second Charge (‘Possession charge’):

“that you, on the 10th day of June 2004, at about 1.30am, at 4 Shan Road, unit #07-01, Singapore, did have in your possession a controlled drug specified in Class C of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, three (3) tablets and one (1) fragmented tablet, which were analysed and found to contain Nimetazepam, without authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 8(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185.”

Third Charge (‘Consumption charge’):

“that you, on the 9th day of June 2004, in Singapore, did consume a controlled drug specified in Class A of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, Methamphetamine, without authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 8(b)(i) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185.

Fourth Charge (‘Permitting premises to be used for consumption’):

“that you, on the 9th day of June 2004, at Papillion Condominium unit #18-03, at No. 8 Jalan Rama Rama, Singapore, being the tenant of the said premises, did permit one Sherman Teo Chee Pheng, to use the said premise for the consumption Methamphetamine, a controlled drug specified in Class A of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185 and you have thereby committed an offence under section 11 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185.”

3. At the end of the trial, I found that the prosecution had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and I convicted the accused on all 4 charges.

4. The accused was sentenced to the following:

First charge – 5 years’ imprisonment and 5 strokes of the cane;

Second charge – 3 months’ imprisonment;

Third charge – 12 months’ imprisonment; and

Fourth charge – 2 years’ imprisonment.

5. The sentences in the 1st and 3rd charges were ordered to run consecutively, total 6 years’ imprisonment and 5 strokes of the cane. I now give the reasons for my decision.

The Prosecution’s Case

Evidence of SI Patrick Thng Joo Seng (PW2)

6. SI Patrick Thng Joo Seng (hereinafter ‘SI Patrick’) testified that on 9 June 2004, at about 11.25 pm, acting on information received, he and a party of CNB officers led by ASP Sivaraman Letchuman (hereinafter ‘ASP Siva’), arrested the accused at the carpark of his rented condominium at No. 8 Jalan Rama Rama. Thereafter, the accused led them to his rented apartment at unit #18-03 (‘the rented apartment’).

7. SI Patrick gave evidence that there were 3 other subjects in the living room and they were placed under arrest. These persons were later ascertained to be Zhang Ji Juan, Tongsri Punoi and Gan Yoke Meng.

8. The accused then led SI Patrick into his master bedroom. Upon questioning, the accused surrendered to SI Patrick, one Marlboro Lights cigarette box containing 2 small packets of crystalline substance which SI Patrick believed to be “ICE”.

9. During the course of the analysis of the seized exhibit by Health Sciences Authority (‘HSA’), it was subsequently discovered that the exhibit actually contained 3 packets instead of 2 packets of crystalline substance, as 2 of the packets were enclosed in another transparent self-sealing plastic packet.

10. SI Patrick gave evidence that the cigarette box was retrieved on the coffee table in the living room. The accused told him that he had obtained the “ICE” from one Sherman earlier that day at about 6.00 pm in his rented apartment. The accused also gave him a brief description of Sherman and told SI Patrick that Sherman was likely to be found in a billiard saloon at the basement level of Golden Mile Tower.

11. At about 11.55 pm, SI Patrick left the rented apartment with Sgt Ben Cheng Boon Keong (hereinafter ‘Sgt Ben’) and W/SSgt Chan Jee Fong (hereinafter ‘W/SSgt Chan’) and proceeded to Golden Mile Tower to locate the said Sherman. Before SI Patrick left, he handed the exhibits over to ASP Siva.

12. On 10 June 2004, at about 12.05 am, at a billiard saloon at unit #B1-25 to 34 at Golden Mile Tower, the party of officers arrested one Sherman Teo Chee Pheng (hereinafter ‘Sherman’).

13. During cross-examination, SI Patrick denied having taken a cigarette from the accused’s cigarette box to smoke, and from which Sgt Ben later discovered the drugs. He further denied that the accused told him that Sherman had offered him 2 big packets of drugs but he refused to accept.

Evidence of Sgt Ben Cheng Boon Keong (PW12)

14. Sgt Ben Cheng Boon Keong (hereinafter ‘Sgt Ben’) was a member of the team of CNB officers involved in the operation.

15. After the accused’s arrest, Sgt Ben left the rented apartment and proceeded with SI Patrick and W/SSgt Chan to Golden Mile Tower where they arrested Sherman.

16. Sgt Ben did not recall having picked up a Marlboro cigarette box on a coffee table in the master bedroom and discovering drugs inside the cigarette box. He testified that when he went into the room, he learnt that the drugs were recovered.

17. Sgt Ben explained that when they were at the CNB HQ after the operation, he was responsible for interviewing another subject, one Jason. However, Jason was very unco-operative. As Jason was the accused’s staff, he brought the accused to the interview room to ask Jason to co-operate with the CNB. Sgt Ben maintained that he did not ask Jason to pinpoint the accused as a drug trafficker.

18. Sgt Ben was subsequently re-called by the prosecution during the voir dire to rebut Jason’s allegation that Sgt Ben assaulted him.

19. Essentially, Sgt Ben maintained that he had brought the accused to the interview room only to ask Jason to be more co-operative. Sgt Ben elaborated that Jason was very unco-operative, abusive and aggressive when questioned about Jason’s urine being tested positive for drugs. Sgt Ben maintained that he did not assault Jason during the interview.

Evidence of W/SSgt Chan Jee Fong (PW8)

20. W/SSgt Chan Jee Fong (hereinafter ‘W/SSgt Chan’) was a member of the team of CNB officers involved in the operation.

21. On 9 June 2004 at about 11.55 pm, after the accused’s arrest, she left the rented apartment and proceeded with SI Patrick and Sgt Ben to Golden Mile Tower where they arrested Sherman.

22. When she returned to the said apartment at about 1.20 am, they left the said apartment at about 1.25 am together with the accused and proceeded to the accused’s home at Blk 4 Shan Road, #07-01 (‘the home’).

23. ASP Siva, SSgt Chew and her escorted the accused to his home and searched the master bedroom in the presence of the accused and his wife. From a small chest of plastic drawer, W/SSgt Chan found 3 tablets sealed in their individual bubble packaging and 1 loose fragmented tablet. The tablets appeared to be Erimin-5 tablets and she handed the exhibits over to ASP Siva.

24. They then left the accused’s home at about 1.50 am and escorted the accused and the wife to the CNB HQ.

Trial-within-Trial for Oral Statement (P15)

25. The prosecution sought to admit an oral statement recorded from the accused by ASP Siva on 10 June 2004 at about 12.21 am at the rented apartment. The defence challenged the admissibility of the statement on grounds that the accused was induced into making the statement, and that the contents therein were not what the accused told ASP Siva.

Evidence of ASP Sivaraman Letchumanan (PW7)

26. ASP Siva testified that on 10 June 2004 at about 12.21 am, he recorded an oral statement from the accused. The accused indicated that he was comfortable speaking in English.

27. ASP Siva described the manner in which he went about recording the statement in a Question-and-Answer format. Essentially, ASP Siva first asked the question and then wrote it down. When the accused gave his answer, ASP Siva wrote down the answer. This process was repeated until ASP Siva finally came to the last question, which was Question 7.

28. After the statement was recorded, it was read back to the accused in English. The accused was asked to confirm that the statement was true and correct by signing on the statement, which he did. ASP Siva also signed on the statement.

29. ASP Siva testified that when the accused was invited to make any corrections, additions or alterations to the statement, the accused indicated that he wanted to make an amendment to the answer to Question 5.

30. ASP Siva then ascertained from the accused the nature of the amendment. He also cancelled the earlier answer after the amendment and got the accused to initial on the amendment.

31. ASP Siva also corrected his closing paragraph to state that the accused chose to make amendments to his statement. The recording ended at about 12.55 am.

32. ASP Siva confirmed that no threat, inducement or promise was made to the accused either before or...

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