Public Prosecutor v Bryan Yeo Sin Rong and Another
|Choo Han Teck JC
|04 August 1998
| SGHC 266
| SGHC 266
|High Court (Singapore)
|Ferlin Jayatissa and Hee Mee Lin [Attorney-General's Chambers]
|Chua Teck Leong [Chua Teck Leong & Partners] (assigned) and Goh Aik Leng [Goh Aik Leng & Partners] (assigned),K S Rajah SC [Harry Elias & Partners] (briefed) and David Gerald [Koh Ong & Partners] (briefed)
|26 February 2013
GROUNDS OF DECISION
THE PROSECUTION CASE
1. The 1st accused was charged with attempting to export heroin from Singapore to Taipei at 4.54pm on 13 January 1998, an offence under s7 read with s12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The charge against the 2nd accused was more elaborately worded as follows:
"That you, Chai Chien Wei Kelvin, on the 13th day of January 1998, at Changi Airport Terminal 2, Singapore, did engage with one Bryan Yeo Sin Rong, male aged 26 years, NRIC No. S7144064/H, in a conspiracy to do a certain thing, namely, to export a controlled drug specified in Class "A" of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, to wit, thirty six (36) blocks of compressed substance containing not less than 2,109 grams of diamorphine from Singapore to Taipei by the said Bryan Yeo Sin Rong, without any authorisation under the said Act or the regulations thereunder, and in pursuance of the said conspiracy and in order for the doing of that thing, an act took place in the shower room of Transit Hotel, Changi Airport namely, you strapped the said drugs, which you transported into Singapore, onto the body of the said Bryan Yeo Sin Rong using masking tapes and other tapes in order to enable him to transport the said drugs out of Singapore, and you have thereby abetted the commission of the offence by the said Bryan Yeo Sin Rong of attempting to export the said drugs from Singapore, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 7 read with section 12 and punishable under section 33 of the Misuse of Drugs Act."
THE 1ST ACCUSED
2. The 1st accused, aged 26, was arrested by officers of the Central Narcotics Bureau ("CNB") on 13 January 1998 at 4.54pm at the Boarding Room Gate E11 in Terminal 2 of the Changi International Airport. The arresting officers were W/ASP Diong Bee Chu, Sgt Eddy Razali, Sgt Xavier Dawes, and Sgt Heng Chin Kok. The 1st accused was brought to the search room at Gate E11 where more CNB officers arrived. They were Sgt Ting Ming Ling, S/Sgt Lee Chai Hwa and Sgt Tan Teck Hoe. W/ASP Diong asked the 1st accused if he had anything to surrender and the 1st accused took off his sweater and shirt and revealed brown blocks strapped to his body under his T-shirt. Five blocks fell off and were retrieved by W/ASP Diong. Shortly after that the CNB officers brought the 1st accused to the CNB office in the North Wing. Along the way another two blocks fell off the 1st accused’s body when the party were outside Gate E5. Another block fell off when they were passing Gate E1. Nine more blocks fell off when the 1st accused was in the CNB North Wing office. These blocks were also retrieved by W/ASP Diong. A total of 36 blocks were recovered from the body of the 1st accused. They were sent for analysis and found to contain a net weight of 2,109gms of diamorphine. The 1st accused was accordingly charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act for attempting to export the said diamorphine.
3. At the North Wing office W/ASP Diong questioned the 1st accused and recorded her questions together with the answers from the 1st accused on paper which the 1st accused signed. This evidence which was not challenged by the defence is as follows:
"Q1: What do you have inside your shirt?
A1: I don’t know
Q2: Where did you get these things?
A2: Now I know I get arrested, I rather die one person.
Q3: Where did you get it?
A3: Inside the airport.
Q4: So you got it today?
Q5: Do you want to say who gave it to you?
A5: I don’t want to be a hero but I don’t want to be a bastard (pause). I don’t know what to say.
Q6: Do you have anything else to say regarding the things on your body?
4. Insp. S Krishnan, the investigating officer, arrived at the CNB North Wing office at 5.50pm and took over the case from W/ASP Diong. At 7.15pm three members from the Scene-of-Crime unit of the Criminal Investigation Department arrived at the North Wing office. Photographs showing blocks of taped matter strapped to the torso of the 1st accused were taken. Of the 36 blocks that were recovered from the 1st accused, 17 of them had fallen off his body en route from the boarding room to the North Wing office. The remaining 19 were still strapped to him. Photography of the 1st accused and the exhibits ended at 8.25pm and five minutes later Insp. Krishnan took the accused back to CNB headquarters, arriving there about 9pm. Insp. Krishnan weighed the drugs and subsequently, at 9.40pm, took them to the CNB’s Major Investigation Branch at Outram Road.
5. At midnight, DSP Vijakumar directed Insp Krishnan to record a statement from the 1st accused. S/Sgt Tai who had been escorting the 1st accused then handed over custody of the 1st accused to Insp Krishnan at 12.30am. The statement was recorded by 2.10am. A further statement was recorded from the 1st accused at 5pm on 15 January 1998. Both statements were admitted and marked as P36 collectively. After recording the first part of P36, the 1st accused was sent for a pre-statement medical examination for the purpose of recording his cautioned statement under s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The 1st accused was sent back to Insp Krishnan at 3.50am on 14 January 1998 and he began the procedure for recording the cautioned statement. The statement itself was recorded from 4.12am to 4.25am. I shall, for convenience, refer to this statement as P34 although this exhibit includes the charge and the caution. Counsel for the 1st accused challenged the admissibility of these three statements on the ground that they were not made voluntarily. The statement given to W/ASP Diong was not challenged.
VOIR DIRE OF THE 1ST ACCUSED
6. The prosecution sought to admit the two written statements of the 1st accused. The first was the statement under s121 CPC (P36), recorded in two parts, and the second, his cautioned statement under s122(6) CPC (P34). The 1st accused alleged that he made these statements under duress and inducement. His complaint was that in the course of the initial interrogation, that was by DSP Vijakumar, he was told that "the rope was round his neck", and he was to tell the truth because DSP Vijakumar could tell if he was lying merely by looking at his eyes. He was also told that if he did not tell the truth DSP Vijaykumar would damage his face. When the 1st accused gave an answer which DSP Vijakumar was not satisfied with he knocked the 1st accused on the head. The 1st accused said that this occurred only once. He testified that at the end of the interview he thought that the officers would help take the rope off his neck, and by this he meant that he thought that he would face a lesser charge. His counsel submitted that the threat, inducement and promise remained impressed in the mind of the 1st accused when he gave his statements to Insp Krishnan. There were no complaints against Insp Krishnan himself in so far as any threat, inducement or promise was concerned. The allegations against DSP Vijakumar were denied by him and SS/Sgt Wong who was present during the interview by DSP Vijakumar.
7. I was not sufficiently convinced (bearing in mind that the onus of proof on the defence is that of raising a reasonable doubt) that DSP Vijakumar and SS/Sgt Wong had told the 1st accused that they would take the rope off his neck or had knocked him on the head, albeit once only. In any event I do not think that a knock on the head in the manner described by the 1st accused was sufficient duress. Neither do I think that a call to co-operate can be regarded as a threat or inducement, even if accompanied, as in this case, by a remark that the accused would be allowed to call his wife after he had co-operated. Similarly, a statement by an investigator to the accused not to lie because he can tell whether he was lying or not merely by looking at his eyes cannot be considered a threat, inducement or promise. After considering the evidence I was satisfied that the statements of the 1st accused were made without any threat, inducement or promise from the CNB officers, and accordingly admitted the statements in evidence.
STATEMENTS OF THE 1ST ACCUSED - P36 AND P34
8. The material story that emerged from the 1st accused’s statements recorded on 14 and 15 January 1998 and admitted as P36 is as follows. On 13 January about 9am he received a paging call from the 2nd accused who called from Thailand. He called the 2nd accused from a public telephone. The latter asked if his visa to Taiwan was ready. The 1st accused said yes, but he did not have enough money to travel. The 2nd accused then instructed him to go to his (2nd accused’s) grandmother (Lim Say Ma) and take $300 from her to purchase his air fare. He also told the 1st accused to meet him at the Transit Lounge of Terminal Two at the Changi International Airport around 3pm. The 1st accused then collected the money from Lim Say Ma at her flat at Yung Ann Road at 10am and used it to help pay the $900 airfare later that morning. Lim Say Ma gave evidence that between 10am and 10.30am on 13 January 1998 she gave $300 to a friend of her grandson (the 2nd accused). She testified that earlier that morning she received a telephone call from the 2nd accused asking her to hand $300 to his friend. There was no other evidence as to why Lim Say Ma handed $300 to the 1st accused other than the reason set out in his statement.
9. The 1st accused arrived at the airport about 3.20pm and after checking through customs he made his way to the Transit Lounge where he saw the 2nd accused. The 2nd accused asked the 1st accused to follow him to the Transit Hotel situated inside the Transit Lounge. The 1st accused paid the cashier at the shower room of the Transit Hotel $10.30 for the use of the shower room by two persons. The cashier who gave evidence confirmed that the price for the use of the shower room was $5.15 per person and that when a receipt for $10.30 was given it meant that it was for two persons. In his statement given on...
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