Public Prosecutor v Khor Soon Lee

JudgeTay Yong Kwang J
Judgment Date31 December 2009
Neutral Citation[2009] SGHC 291
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Published date20 April 2011
Citation[2009] SGHC 291
Plaintiff CounselAedit Abdullah, Ravneet Kaur and Peggy Pao, DPPs
Defendant CounselP O Ram (Vijay & Co) and Pratap Kishan (Kishan & V Suria Partnership)
Subject MatterCriminal Law,Statutory offences,Misuse of Drugs Act

[LawNet Editorial Note: The appeal to this decision in Criminal Appeal No 21 of 2009 was allowed by the Court of Appeal on 15 April 2011. See [2011] SGCA 17.]

31 December 2009

Tay Yong Kwang J:


1 The accused, born on 25 March 1975, was tried and convicted on the following capital charge:

That you, Khor Soon Lee, on the 9th day of August 2008, at about 2.00pm, at the Woodlands Immigration Checkpoint, Singapore, did import into Singapore on motorcycle JGF 9461, a controlled drug specified in Class “A” of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185), to wit, one packet of granular/powdery substance containing not less than 27.86 grams of diamorphine, without any authorization under the Misuse of Drugs Act or the regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 7 and punishable under section 33 of the said Act.

The prosecution’s case

2 The trial was shortened as the prosecution and the defence counsel helpfully agreed on most matters relating to the arrest of the accused, the recovery of the drugs in question and the investigation work (including the taking of the accused’s statements) by way of a 21-page statement of agreed facts (marked “C”). The accused arrived at the Woodlands Checkpoint from Johor Baru at close to 2pm on 9 August 2008. He was riding a motorcycle bearing Malaysian registration number JGF 9461. As his name was on the Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”)’s list of persons under suspicion, his passport and the motorcycle’s ignition key were seized by the immigration officer on duty. An officer from the Auxiliary Police Force then arrived to meet the accused. The officer took the accused’s passport and the ignition key and escorted him to the office of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (“ICA”) a short distance away, with the accused pushing his motorcycle along the way.

3 When they arrived at the office, the accused parked his motorcycle in one of the motorcycle lots outside and went into the office with the officer. The accused, his passport and the ignition key were handed over to the duty officer there.

4 A while later, ICA officers conducted a search of the accused’s motorcycle. They found a black sling bag in the front carrier basket of the motorcycle. The accused was asked to unzip the sling bag. It was found to contain a black shirt, a blue face towel and several bundles wrapped with black masking tape. As the bundles were suspected to contain controlled drugs, the CNB was contacted.

5 The ICA officers brought the accused and the sling bag into the ICA office. Inside a room, they took out the contents of the sling bag. They found a white carrier plastic bag inside. Inside this white plastic bag were a smaller white plastic bag imprinted with purple flowers (“the purple plastic bag”) and a smaller black plastic bag (“the black plastic bag”). These two smaller plastic bags were not sealed up. The purple plastic bag had three bundles wrapped with black masking tape while the black plastic bag had one bundle wrapped with such tape.

6 A CNB officer arrived at the ICA office and asked the accused in Malay what the bundles were. The accused replied in Malay, “Dadah” (meaning drugs). The bundles were unwrapped in the presence of the accused. The three bundles in the purple plastic bag contained 30 slabs each having 10 tablets, two sachets of white crystalline substance and 50 green tablets respectively. When asked what these were, the accused replied that they were “E5” (Erimin), “K” (Ketamine) and “Ecstasy” respectively. The bundle found in the black plastic bag contained a packet of white granular substance. The accused denied knowing what this was. The contents of this last bundle were subsequently analysed and found to contain diamorphine.

7 The accused was placed under arrest and was later escorted to the CNB CNB Headquarters (“CNB HQ”) in the Police Cantonment Complex. His motorcycle was also brought there. At the basement car park of the CNB HQ, the accused’s motorcycle was searched in his presence. Nothing further was found thereon. The accused was then brought up to the office where the seized drug exhibits were photographed and weighed in his presence. The exhibits were then kept in a safe. As stated above (in [6]), the contents of the bundle of white granular substance were subsequently analysed by the Health Sciences Authority laboratory and certified to contain not less than 27.86 grams of diamorphine. This formed the subject of the charge against the accused.

8 A total of seven statements were recorded from the accused. All these were admitted as evidence without challenge. In the first statement recorded several hours after his arrest, the accused acknowledged that all the seized exhibits were found in his sling bag. He claimed that they belonged to a friend named Tony (later identified as Ong Heng Hor, a Malaysian) who had handed them to him at a Mobil petrol kiosk in Johor Baru at about noon that day, just before the accused left for Singapore. He was told by Tony that they were “K”, “5” and “Yao Toh Wan”. He knew that they were drugs and he (the accused) had consumed such before. However, he did not know that there was heroin as he did not see any heroin while at the said petrol kiosk. He was to hand the drugs back to Tony at the Kranji Mass Rapid Transit station (“Kranji MRT”) in Singapore. Tony would then pay him some money, the amount of which he did not know. This was the sixth time that he was assisting Tony to bring drugs into Singapore.

9 In his cautioned statement made pursuant to s 122(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68), the accused stated that he was helping people to bring these drugs in and he only knew that they were “Yao Tou Wan”, “Five-Zai” and “K-fen”. He did not know that there was heroin.

10 In a further statement, the accused recounted that he had a criminal record for consumption of Ecstasy in Malaysia but not for trafficking of drugs. He was unemployed and had been borrowing money from his friends for his daily needs. He owed them more than RM3,000. He got to know Tony in a hair salon about a year ago and found out that Tony had contacts for supply of drugs such as Ice. Tony consumed Erimin-5 in his presence and gave him some for free. In early April 2008, the accused decided to take a supply of Ice from Tony to sell to his friends. He bought RM1,600 worth of Ice on credit and handed it to a friend who did not pay him for the drug. As a result, the accused owed Tony this amount of money to date.

11 As he was unable to repay Tony the amount owed, he avoided him. However, he met Tony again and was scolded for avoiding him. Subsequently, Tony asked him whether he was working. The accused said he was unemployed and asked Tony to introduce him to some work. One or two weeks later, Tony telephoned him and told him to meet at the said hair salon. There, Tony informed the accused that he wanted him to bring Erimin-5, Ketamine, Ice and Ecstasy into Singapore for which he would be paid RM200 to RM300 per trip. The accused agreed to do so as he still owed Tony money.

12 In early July 2008, the accused made his first delivery of controlled drugs into Singapore. He went to Tony’s house and was given a few black bundles. Sometimes, he was told that they were “5” and “K”. At other times, he was not told what drugs were in the bundles. He was instructed by Tony not to open the bundles to check on the contents but he knew they contained drugs. Tony did not instruct him on how he was to conceal the bundles. He would bring the drugs into Singapore in a taxi or on a borrowed motorcycle. Once he arrived in Singapore, he would pass the bundles to Tony, usually at the Kranji MRT or at a bus stop in Hougang. The accused would then return to Johor Baru where he would be paid RM200 to RM300 for the delivery. He had lost count of the number of such deliveries but he remembered...

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3 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Lim Boon Hiong and another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 July 2010
    ...possession are not what they truly are. Indeed, this was the conclusion reached by Tay Yong Kwang J in Public Prosecutor v Khor Soon Lee [2009] SGHC 291 (“Khor Soon Lee”), where Tay J convicted the accused of importing 27.86 grams of diamorphine under s 7 of the Act. The accused had been gi......
  • Public Prosecutor v Lim Boon Hiong and another
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 21 July 2010
    ...possession are not what they truly are. Indeed, this was the conclusion reached by Tay Yong Kwang J in Public Prosecutor v Khor Soon Lee [2009] SGHC 291 (“Khor Soon Lee”), where Tay J convicted the accused of importing 27.86 grams of diamorphine under s 7 of the Act. The accused had been gi......
  • Khor Soon Lee v Public Prosecutor
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2011
    ...was charged with and convicted of importing 27.86 grams of diamorphine into Singapore (see Public Prosecutor v Khor Soon Lee [2009] SGHC 291 (“the GD”)). He now appeals against his conviction. Background and The Appellant, 36 years of age, was charged with the following offence: That you, K......

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