Public Prosecutor v Jason John Lopez

CourtDistrict Court (Singapore)
JudgeMathew Joseph
Judgment Date27 April 2020
Neutral Citation[2020] SGDC 112
Citation[2020] SGDC 112
Hearing Date14 November 2019,04 March 2019,19 March 2020,29 October 2019,13 November 2019,05 March 2019,27 March 2020,04 January 2019,19 August 2019,03 January 2019,05 March 2020
Docket NumberDAC-934848-2017, MA-9079-2020-01
Published date14 May 2020
Plaintiff CounselDPP Amanda Sum (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Defendant CounselCounsel Ms Diana Foo (Tan See Swan & Co.) and Mr Hassan Esa Almenoar (R. Ramason & Almenoar)
District Judge Mathew Joseph: Introduction

The accused Jason John Lopez had claimed trial to a single charge under section 31 (2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act for failing to give his urine specimen for a urine test without reasonable excuse.

At the conclusion of the trial, the accused was found guilty and convicted of the proceeded charge against him. He was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months imprisonment with 6 strokes of the cane with effect from the date of his remand, 23 September 2017.

The accused has now appealed against his conviction and the sentence imposed on him. He is presently serving his sentence.

I set out below my grounds of decision with regard to his conviction and the sentence imposed.


The single charge that was proceeded against the accused was as follows -



are charged that you, on 22 September 2017 at or about 4.00 p.m., in Singapore, did without reasonable excuse, fail to provide a specimen of your urine for urine test as required by an officer of the Singapore Police Force, Central Police Division Headquarters, namely Senior Station Inspector Osman Bin Md Zin, and you have thereby committed an offence under Section 31(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (“MDA”)

and further

that you, on 12 November 2007, had been convicted in the District Court, No. 17 vide DAC37870/2007, for an offence of consumption of a specified drug, to wit, morphine, under Section 8(b)(ii) of the MDA and were punished under Section 33A(1) of the MDA with 5 years’ and 6 months’ imprisonment and 3 strokes of cane, which conviction and punishment has not been set aside to date, and you are thereby liable to enhanced punishment under Section 33A(2) of the MDA.

Preliminary Matters Accused unrepresented for most of trial

For almost the entire trial, the accused had been unrepresented. For the first 4 days, he was unrepresented. On the fifth day of the trial on 19 August 2019, Counsel Mr Skandarajah appeared to act for the accused. This was at the stage of the ancillary hearing when the accused was supposed to make his oral submissions on the involuntariness of his long statement P5i. Counsel proceeded then to make oral submissions on why P5i should not be admissible in evidence. After hearing submissions form both Counsel and the DPP, I ruled that the statement was made voluntarily by the accused. Accordingly, the long statement P5 was admitted into evidence. At a later part of this judgment, I will give reasons as to why the long statement was admitted into evidence.

Thereafter, Counsel Mr Skandarajah continued to act for the accused and conducted the cross-examination of PW7 SSGT Muhammas Izree.

The accused had represented himself from Day 1 – Day 4 of the trial.

Discharge of Counsel Mr Skandarajah.

In an unusual turn of events, at the end of the very first day on which Counsel Mr Skandarajah had appeared for the accused, the accused sought to discharge his own counsel.1 The court advised him to consider carefully the implications of his proposed course of action. However, the accused was adamant. In any case, I adjourned the trial to the next day for resumed hearing and for the accused to re-consider his decision. However, the next day the accused did not turn up in court as he had reported sick while in remand in Changi Prison. He was given 2 days of MC. Accordingly, the 2 hearing days earlier fixed for 20 – 21 August 2019 had to be vacated to the next tranche of hearing dates. At PTC on 9 September 2019, the accused discharged his Counsel Mr Skandarajah. When the trial resumed for further hearing on 29 October 2019, the accused was again unrepresented and he proceeded to conduct his own defence.

Multiple further submissions by new Defence counsel after timeline for submissions had closed

After the trial resumed on 29 October 2019, the court again urged the accused to engage new counsel so that he would not be disadvantaged in conducting his own defence. However, the accused chose not to do so. At the end of the trial on 14 November 2019, the court set down timelines for closing submissions by both the DPP and the accused. As the accused was unrepresented, I gave him a slightly longer period than the usual timelines for closing submissions and replies. The timelines were for closing submissions to be submitted by 30 December 2019, with replies to be exchanged by 23 Jan 2020.

On 26 December 2019, new Counsel Ms Diana Foo appeared in court and asked for an extension of the earlier timelines as the firm had just been briefed. I allowed the application in the interests of justice, being especially mindful that the accused had conducted his defence largely unrepresented. The trial then resumed again on 5 March 2020 in accordance with the new timelines and with new Defence Counsel Mr Hassan Almenoar and Ms Diana Foo acting for the accused. I will deal with the submissions of new Counsel and their attempts to introduce additional new evidence in a later part of this judgment.

The Prosecution’s Case Overview

The Prosecution gave an overview of the case in the following terms. 2

The accused was arrested at Mustafa Centre on 22 September 2017 after Police officers observed him to be walking with an unsteady gait, and deliberately avoiding eye contact with them. The officers conducted a search on the accused and found 10 packets of pills in packaging labelled “Erimin-5” in his left pocket. These pills were subsequently analysed at the Health Sciences Authority (“HSA”) and found to contain Etizolam, a non-controlled substance.

Pursuant to his arrest, the accused was escorted to the ‘A’ Division police lockup. Here, Senior Station Inspector 2 Osman bin Mohamad Zin (“SSI Osman”) requested the accused to provide a sample of his urine for drug testing. The accused was also issued multiple warnings that failure to comply with the request was an offence under s 31(2) of the MDA. The accused was also offered water every half an hour, along with the further issuance of warnings. In each case, he drank at most a few sips each time.

The accused was provided the opportunity to give his urine sample up until 9.45 pm on 22 September 2017. Despite having been given a full 12 hours from his first warning from SSI Osman at 9.50 am, the accused failed to provide his urine sample. He was then served the charge under s 31 (2) of the MDA by W/SSSgt Nurliyana Mohd Idros (“SSSgt Nurliyana”) at 9.45 pm on the same day.

It is undisputed that the accused did not ultimately provide a sample of his urine as he was required to do.

Prosecution evidence

The Prosecution called the following 8 witnesses3 to prove its case during the trial:

PW Witness Role
PW1 SSgt Joseph Justin Selvam Investigation officer
PW2 W/Sgt2 Nor’Aisah binte Mohd Perdaus (“Sgt Nor’Aisah”) Arresting officer and maker of arrest report
PW3 R/Sgt Muhammad Firdaus bin Mohd Saleh (“Sgt Firdaus”) Arresting officer
PW4 SSI2 Osman bin Md Zin Lead escort in charge of ‘A’ Division lockup on 22 September 2017, and who administered the warnings to the accused in lockup
PW5 SSGT Ng Boon Kiat Escorting officer – Escorted accused to the toilet to collect his urine sample, but was unsuccessful as accused did not eventually provide his urine
PW6 Dr Lim Hong Giat Raymond (“Dr Lim”) Examining doctor who assessed the accused in lockup
PW7 SSGT Muhammad Izree bin Ahmad Statement recorder – Recorded the accused’s long statement under s 22 of the Criminal Procedure Code
PW8 W/SSSGT Nurliyana Mohd Idros Previous investigation officer – Served the charge and notice of warning to the accused and recorded his cautioned statement under s 23 of the CPC

A further two witnesses gave evidence for the Prosecution in the two ancillary hearings that took place in the course of trial:

PW Witness Role
1TPW2 SSSGT Johnson Leong Tuck Ming (“SSSgt Jonhson”) Statement recorder – Recorded additional portion to the accused’s long statement under s 22 of the CPC
2TPW1 SCCPL Muhammad Hudzaifah bin Mazlan Maker of station diary entry no. 32 as appears in exhibit D4

The following (documentary) exhibits were also admitted into evidence in the course of trial:

Exhibit Document Description
Prosecution exhibits
P1 Police report (A/20170922/2025) dated 22 September 2017 at 9.41 am (“Arrest report”) Arrest report documenting the arrest of the accused at Mustafa Centre
P2 Police station diary entries (redacted), running to entry no. 31 (“Station diary”) Documents the accused’s movement in lockup and the issuance of warnings to the accused to provide a sample of his urine within 4 hours of the first warning
P3 Medical report dated 23 November 2018 by Dr Lin Hanjie (“Medical Report”) Documents Dr Raymond Lim’s assessment of the accused as fit to provide a urine sample, based on his medical examination of the accused in lockup
P4 NP306 medical form dated 22 September 2017 (“NP306”) Contains Dr Raymond Lim’s medical notes from his assessment of the accused in lockup
P5 Accused’s long statement under s 22 of the CPC (“long statement”) Accused’s statement recorded by SSgt Muhammad Izree bin Ahmad and SSSgt Johnson Leong Tuck Ming commencing on 22 September 2017 at 5.10 pm
Defence exhibits
D1 Page 34 (un-redacted) of police station diary Page 34 of the police station diary that was served on the accused in the Prosecution’s Supplementary Bundle (“PSB”) as part of the Criminal Case Disclosure Conference (“CCDC”) process
D2 Prosecution’s Summary of Facts Prosecution’s Summary of Facts that was served on the accused in the Case for the Prosecution

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