PP v Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Judgment Date20 May 2013
Date20 May 2013
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 4 of 2013

High Court

Tay Yong Kwang J

Criminal Case No 4 of 2013

Public Prosecutor
Plaintiff
and
Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim and another
Defendant

Shahla Iqbal and Ruth Wong (Attorney-General's Chambers) for the Prosecution

Ramesh Tiwary (Ramesh Tiwary) and K Prasad (K Prasad & Co) for the first accused

Mohd Muzammil bin Mohd (Muzammil & Co) and Lam Wai Sing (Lam W S & Co) for the second accused.

Chai Chien Wei Kelvin v PP [1998] 3 SLR (R) 619; [1999] 1 SLR 25 (refd)

Dinesh Pillai a/l K Raja Retnam v PP [2012] 2 SLR 903 (refd)

Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam v PP [2011] 4 SLR 1156 (refd)

Osman bin Din v PP [1995] 1 SLR (R) 419; [1995] 2 SLR 129 (refd)

Raman Selvam s/o Renganathan v PP [2004] 1 SLR (R) 550; [2004] 1 SLR 550 (refd)

Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) ss 122 (6) , 170 (1) , 176

Evidence Act (Cap97, 1997 Rev Ed) s 116 illus (b)

Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) ss 18 (2) , 33 B (2) (a) (consd) ; ss2, 5 (1) , 5 (1) (a) , 18 (1) , 18 (1) (c) , 18 (3) , 18 (4) , 33 B, 33 B (1) (a) , 33 B (2) , 33 B (2) (a) , 33 B (2) (a) (ii) , 33 B (2) (a) (iii) , 33 B (2) (b)

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Act 2012 (Act 30 of 2012)

Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed) s 34

Criminal Law—Statutory offences—Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed)—Common intention to traffic in diamorphine under s 5 (1) (a) Misuse of Drugs Act—First accused collecting bundles containing heroin—Defence arguing that second accused had no knowledge of quantity of bundles or of nature of drug contained in bundles—Whether second accused had actual knowledge—Whether presumption of knowledge under s 18 (2) Misuse of Drugs Act applied where accused was not in physical possession of drug—Whether presumption of knowledge rebutted—Sections 5 (1) (a)and 18 (2) Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed)

Criminal Law—Statutory offences—Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed)—Offences punishable under s 33 B Misuse of Drugs Act—Whether requirements in s 33 B (2) (a) were satisfied—Section 33 B (2) (a)Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed)

The first accused, Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim (‘Abdul Haleem’), and the second accused, Muhammad Ridzuan bin Md Ali (‘Ridzuan’), were each charged with two charges of trafficking in diamorphine under s 5 (1) (a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (‘MDA’) read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed).

The first charge involved not less than 72.50 g of diamorphine (‘the First Charge’) and was a capital charge punishable under s 33, or alternatively, s 33 B of the MDA. The subject of the First Charge was the heroin found in seven bundles that Abdul Haleem had collected from a drug runner (‘the jockey’) on Ridzuan's instructions. Both claimed that they had only intended to pass the bundles to customers of the drug supplier and Ridzuan further denied that he had knowledge of the quantity of bundles collected by Abdul Haleem or the nature of the drug contained in the bundles.

The second charge involved not more than 14.99 g of diamorphine (‘the Second Charge’). The subject of the Second Charge was the heroin found in one bundle that Abdul Haleem had collected from the jockey and in 21 plastic sachets found in Ridzuan's bedroom. Both accused persons admitted that they had agreed to purchase this quantity of heroin - which they referred to as one ‘ball’ of heroin - from the drug supplier with the intention of repacking it for sale.

Held, convicting the first accused on the First and Second Charges and sentencing him to life imprisonment, and convicting the second accused on the First and Second Charges and sentencing him to death:

(1) In relation to the charges against Abdul Haleem, the elements of the First Charge were satisfied as he had been (a)in possession of the seven bundles of heroin, (b)made express admissions of knowledge that the bundles contained heroin and (c)stated that he had collected the seven bundles of heroin for the purpose of transporting, sending or delivering the bundles to either Ridzuan or the drug supplier's customers. The Second Charge was also made out as Abdul Haleem admitted to having entered into an agreement with Ridzuan to purchase one ‘ball’ of heroin with the intention of repacking it for sale and they had in fact obtained the heroin for this purpose: at [30] and [31].

(2) The Second Charge against Ridzuan was proved beyond reasonable doubt. Ridzuan did not dispute that he was in possession of the one ‘ball’ of heroin and admitted that he was aware of the nature and quantity of the heroin. He also gave evidence that he had bought the heroin pursuant to an agreement with Abdul Haleem to sell the heroin: at [33].

(3) With respect to the First Charge, Ridzuan was deemed to have been in joint possession of the seven bundles under s 18 (4) of the MDA or was presumed to have been in possession of the bundles under s 18 (1) (c)of the MDA. Ridzuan's own evidence also indicated that he had the common intention to traffic in drugs with Abdul Haleem as both had received the seven bundles from the jockey for the purpose of transporting, sending or delivering the bundles to other customers of the drug supplier: at [35] and [36].

(4) The inculpatory portions in Ridzuan's long statements sufficed to establish actual knowledge on Ridzuan's part that the seven bundles contained heroin. In his long statements, he stated that he had told Abdul Haleem that the jockey would be passing them additional bundles of heroin. Ridzuan claimed at trial that this portion of his statement had been translated erroneously and that he had referred to generic ‘drugs’ instead of ‘heroin’, but there was no merit to his belated objections. Abdul Haleem also gave corroborating evidence that Ridzuan had told him that the jockey would be passing them additional bundles of heroin, and there was no reason not to give due weight to Abdul Haleem's evidence: at [39] to [42].

(5) Ridzuan failed to rebut the presumption of knowledge under s 18 (2) of the MDA on a balance of probabilities. The s 18 (2) presumption could be invoked where possession of a controlled drug was proved or presumed, and was triggered even if the accused person did not have actual physical possession of the drug. There was nothing in Ridzuan's testimony or the objective evidence that supported his assertion of lack of knowledge: at [44], [45], [47] and [48].

(6) The word ‘offering’ in ss 33 B (2) (a) (ii) and 33 B (2) (a) (iii) of the MDA should be not construed narrowly as a legal term of art in the contractual offer and acceptance sense and should not be restricted to situations where the request to do the act emanated from the accused. Sections 33 B (2) (a) (ii) and 33 B (2) (a) (iii) therefore covered a factual scenario where the accused acceded to a request to do the act in question: at [52].

(7) Abdul Haleem and Ridzuan satisfied the requirements under either ss 33 B (2) (a) (ii) or 33 B (2) (a) (iii) as it was their uncontroverted evidence that they had accepted the seven bundles from the jockey for the only purpose of subsequently handing them over to other customers of the drug supplier. This was notwithstanding their admissions that they had intended to keep the bundles for a short period of time before delivery. Section 33 B (2) (a) applied strictly only to a person who acted as a courier, but it should not be construed pedantically such that an incidental act of storage or safe-keeping by the accused in the course of delivering the drugs would exclude the accused from the scope of the provision: at [53] and [55].

(8) Abdul Haleem also satisfied s 33 B (2) (b) of the MDA as the Public Prosecutor certified that he had ‘substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore’. Exercising the discretion under s 33 B (1) (a)of the MDA, Abdul Haleem was sentenced to life imprisonment and the minimum of 15 strokes of the cane for the First Charge. His involvement in the trafficking of the seven bundles was incidental and unplanned, and life imprisonment was sufficient punishment in the circumstances of the case. The mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane was imposed for the Second Charge: at [57] to [59].

(9) Ridzuan was sentenced to the mandatory death sentence as prescribed by s 33 of the MDA for the First Charge as the Public Prosecutor did not provide a certificate under s 33 B (2) (b) and the conjunctive requirements in ss 33 B (2) (a) and 33 B (2) (b) were not met. The alternative sentencing option in s 33 B (1) (a) therefore could not be considered. The mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane was imposed for the Second Charge: at [60] and [61].

Tay Yong Kwang J

1 The first accused, Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim (‘Abdul Haleem’), and the second accused, Muhammad Ridzuan bin Md Ali (‘Ridzuan’), were both tried and convicted on two charges of trafficking in diamorphine under s 5 (1) (a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (‘MDA’) read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 2008 Rev Ed). The two charges read as follows:

That you ABDUL HALEEM BIN ABDUL KARIM/MUHAMMAD RIDZUAN BIN MD ALI,

1st charge('the First Charge')

on 6 May 2010, at about 6.40 pm, at Block 22 Jalan Tenteram #03-555 Singapore 320022, together with one [Muhammad Ridzuan Bin Md Ali, NRIC No. S [xxx] for the charge against Abdul Haleem/Abdul Haleem Bin Abdul Karim, NRIC No. S [xxx] for the charge against Ridzuan], in furtherance of the common intention of both of you, 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, 7 large packets of substances, that were analysed and found to contain not less than 72.50 grams of diamorphine,without any authorisation...

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