Public Prosecutor v Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Another

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeKan Ting Chiu J
Published date23 December 2005
Plaintiff CounselAmarjit Singh and Chong Li Min (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Defendant CounselChandra Mohan s/o K Nair (Tan Rajah and Cheah) and Patrick Tan Tse Chia (Patrick Tan and Associates),N K Rajarh (N K Rajarh) and Thrumurgan s/o Ramapiram (Allister Lim and Thrumurgan)
Subject MatterCriminal Law,Statutory offences,Misuse of Drugs Act,Importing controlled drugs,Presumption of knowledge of nature of drugs,Accused arrested at airport with diamorphine in bag,Requisite knowledge of contents of capsules,Wilful blindness as to contents no defence,Sections 7, 33 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2001 Rev Ed),Conspiracy to import controlled drugs,Abetment of importation,No presumption of knowledge raised,Whether knowledge of contents of capsules could be inferred,Sections 7, 12, 33 Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2001 Rev Ed)

22 December 2005

Kan Ting Chiu J:

1 There are two accused persons and two charges in this case. The first accused, Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, was charged that he:

on the 27th day of November 2004, at Changi Airport Terminal 2 Transit Lounge, 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, 100 capsules containing not less than 727.02 grams of diamorphine, without any authorisation under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder, and [he had] thereby committed an offence under section 7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act and punishable under section 33 of the said Act.

2 The second accused, Okeke Nelson Malachy, was charged that he:

on or about the 27th day of November 2004, in Singapore and elsewhere, did engage with one Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi (Nigerian Passport No: A1622328) and one “Smith” in a conspiracy to do a certain thing, to wit, to import into Singapore a controlled drug specified in Class ‘A’ of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 185, namely, 100 capsules containing not less than 727.02 grams of diamorphine, and in pursuance of the said conspiracy and in order to the doing of that thing, the said Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi without any authorisation under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder imported the said drug into Singapore on the 27th day of November 2004 to be handed to [him], and [he had] thereby abetted the commission of the offence of importing the said controlled drug into Singapore by the said Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and thereby committed an offence under section 7 read with section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act and punishable under section 33 of the said Act.

3 The person referred to as Smith was not apprehended. From the evidence, he was in Pakistan.

The arrests

4 On 27 November 2004, at about 1.45pm, the first accused, a Nigerian national, flew into Singapore Changi Airport from Dubai. On 28 November, he went to the Ambassador Transit Hotel (“the hotel”) at Terminal 2 and asked for a room but none was available. When a room became available, the supervisor of the hotel noticed that he had been in the transit area for more than 24 hours and was due to return to Dubai on 30 November. In compliance with set procedures, she informed the airport police about the first accused. The airport police did not respond immediately but subsequently despatched three officers to interview the first accused.

5 The first accused was told that the police were coming to interview him before he could check in. When he was told that, he went away from the reception area of the hotel to the other areas of the transit area.

6 When the officers arrived about 20 minutes later, they introduced themselves and brought him back to the reception area of the hotel where they questioned him. He told them that he had come from Dubai and that he had come to Singapore to get trials with football clubs in Singapore. He admitted that no arrangements had been made with any club, and that he intended to approach the football federation for assistance. He also told the officers that he did not enter Singapore because he was told that he needed to have $2000 to enter, and he did not have the money. He had expected his father to send him the money, but his father did not send it.

7 The officers decided to conduct a search, which was carried out at the shower counter to the rear of the reception area. The first accused brought with him to the counter area a dark blue Converse sling bag (“the blue bag”) and a white “Dubai Duty Free” plastic bag (“the white plastic bag”).

8 The officers said that many items were discovered when they searched the blue bag. The most significant of the items were a red bucket-shaped “Maltesers” container, a pair of gloves and a pair of shoes. The 100 capsules which are the subject matter of the charges were found in the blue bag and in the Maltesers container, the gloves and the shoes. The capsules were securely wrapped in layers of aluminium foil, adhesive tape and plastic covering the core of powdery substance containing diamorphine.

9 When the first accused was asked if the capsules were chocolate he confirmed they were. When he was asked again if they were chocolate, he said they were actually herbs from Africa which tasted like chocolate, which gave strength when eaten, and he swallowed one capsule on his own. (He was later warded in hospital and induced to purge the capsule intact.)

10 The officers decided to cut open a capsule. When they suspected that the contents were drugs, they stopped the search and the Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”) was notified. At the same time, the first accused and his bags were moved from the shower counter to Room 302 (“the hotel room”) of the hotel.

11 While he was at the hotel room, another police officer, Sergeant Tan Chun Siong (“Sgt Tan”) came to see him to investigate him for overstaying. The first accused told him that he hoped to play football for a team in Singapore. He also told Sgt Tan that he was in the transit area to wait for an African national by the name of Marshal, and that he was to deliver the African herbs to Marshal at about 8.00pm in the transit area that day, and Marshal, who would be arriving from Indonesia, would hand US$2000 to him. He explained to Sgt Tan that this was arranged by his soccer manager whom he knew as Smith. Sgt Tan made contemporaneous jottings of the interview, including the words “Smith”, “Marshal” and “2000 US”.

12 Subsequently, when officers from the CNB arrived at the hotel room they opened one capsule which contents tested positive for controlled drugs.

13 Assistant Superintendent of Police Gary Chan Gin Choong (“ASP Chan”) of the CNB went to the hotel room. He questioned the first accused about the capsules, and was told that they were herbs from Africa for stomach problems. This was recorded in writing, and signed by the first accused.

14 Another CNB officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police Goh Boon Pin (“ASP Goh”) arrived at about 9.55pm and recorded a statement from the first accused in which he again stated that he would receive US$2000 for delivering the capsules. Another officer, Staff Sergeant Alan Yap Keng Chuan (“SSgt Yap”) also stated that the first accused had referred to the US$2000 payment, although he did not make any note of it at that time.

15 The first accused told the officers that someone known as Smith had arranged for him to bring the capsules into Singapore, and he was to deliver them to another person known as Marshal, who would pay him US$2000. He was instructed to telephone Smith with the telephone in the hotel room. Three calls were made. The first was made at about 8.42pm. After speaking in a language the officers did not understand (which was Igbo according to the first accused), he told the officers he had asked Smith about the delivery and collection and Smith told him that Marshal’s flight was...

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3 cases
  • Tan Kiam Peng v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 28 September 2007
    ...[1998] 2 SLR (R) 351; [1998] 2 SLR 704 (refd) PP v Hla Win [1995] 2 SLR (R) 104; [1995] 2 SLR 424 (refd) PP v Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi [2005] SGHC 233 (refd) PP v Khampali Suchart [1996] SGCA 38 (refd) PP v Ko Mun Cheung [1990] 1 SLR (R) 226; [1990] SLR 323 (refd) PP v Koo Pui Fong [1996] 1 SL......
  • Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 16 March 2006
    ...from, and the [first appellant’s] travels after leaving Nigeria up to his arrival in Singapore” (see PP v Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi [2005] SGHC 233 at [37]). Hence, it was not known which football clubs he played for in Nigeria and Senegal, and which he hoped to play for in Singapore (however, ......
  • Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Another v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 16 March 2006
    ...from, and the [first appellant’s] travels after leaving Nigeria up to his arrival in Singapore” (see PP v Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi [2005] SGHC 233 at [37]). Hence, it was not known which football clubs he played for in Nigeria and Senegal, and which he hoped to play for in Singapore (however, ......

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