Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop

JurisdictionSingapore
JudgeChan Seng Onn J
Judgment Date30 June 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] SGHC 125
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Docket NumberCriminal Case No 10 of 2014
Year2014
Published date15 July 2014
Hearing Date05 March 2014,19 March 2014,25 March 2014,04 March 2014,02 June 2014,07 March 2014,20 March 2014,06 March 2014
Plaintiff CounselLim How Khang, Kevin Tan and Larissa Lim (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Defendant CounselAmolat Singh (Amolat & Partners) and Mervyn Cheong (Eugene Thuraisingham)
Subject MatterCriminal law,Statutory offences,Misuse of Drugs Act
Citation[2014] SGHC 125
Chan Seng Onn J: Introduction

The accused, a 30 year old male Singaporean, claimed trial to the following charge of trafficking in methamphetamine (hereinafter used interchangeably with its street name “ice”) under s 5(1)(a) read with s 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed) (“MDA”):

That you, MOHAMMAD FARID BIN MOHD YUSOP,

on 10 March 2011, at about 5.30 a.m., in the vicinity of the traffic junction of Lavender Street and Bendemeer Road, Singapore, inside vehicle SGH3547U, did traffic in a controlled drug specified as a "Class A drug" in the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185,2008 Rev Ed) ("the Act"), to wit, by having in your possession for the purpose of trafficking, two packets of crystalline substance which was analysed and found to contain not less than 386.7 grams of methamphetamine, without any authorisation under the Act or the regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under s 5(l)(a) read with s 5(2) and punishable under s 33 of the Act, and further upon your conviction under s 5(1) of the Act, you may alternatively be liable to be punished under s 33B of the Act.

[emphasis added]

As the accused was charged with trafficking in more than 250g of methamphetamine, he faced the mandatory death penalty if found guilty (see s 33 read with the Second Schedule of the MDA). However, at the end of the trial, I believed his defence that, even though he was caught carrying 386.7g of methamphetamine, he never intended to traffic in more than 250g of the same. Accordingly, I amended the above charge against the accused to one of having a lesser amount of 249.99g of methamphetamine in his possession for the purpose of trafficking. I convicted the accused on this amended charge and sentenced him to 23 years’ imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.

As the prosecution has since appealed against my decision to acquit the accused on the capital charge, I shall now set out my grounds for doing so.

Background facts The CNB operation leading up to the arrest

On 10 March 2011, at about 4.40am, a team of 11 Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”) officers led by Senior Station Inspector Heng Chin Kok (“SSI Heng”) was deployed to the vicinity of Woodlands Industrial Park D Street 1. This was after they had received information that a male Malay, known as “Boy Scar” and driving a silver car with registration number SGH3547U (“the Car”), was believed to be involved in drug-related activities at the location.

The 11 CNB officers were grouped in different vehicles comprising four cars and two motorcycles. Together in one of the cars were Senior Staff Sergeant Kua Boon San (“SSS Kua”) and Woman Senior Staff Sergeant Woo Yoke Chun ‘Jenny’ (“W/SSS Woo”). They were stationed opposite the Kranji Mass Rapid Transit (“MRT”) station with SSS Kua behind the wheel.

Shortly before 5.20am, W/SSS Woo spotted the Car being driven past their vehicle. She then saw the Car make a U-turn and stop in front of Kranji MRT station somewhere between a bus stop and an overhead bridge. None of the CNB officers involved managed to observe what had happened at Kranji MRT station while the Car was there.

At about 5.20am, the CNB officers were instructed to move in to arrest the accused who was driving the Car. The CNB officers thus followed the Car, which was seen travelling in the direction of Seletar Expressway, and eventually caught up with it at about 5.30am when it stopped at the traffic junction of Lavender Street and Bendemeer Road. That was when SSI Heng gave the signal to contain the Car and arrest the accused.

The accused’s arrest

The Car was contained by two CNB cars. One of these cars was driven in front of the Car and reversed to make contact with the latter’s front bumper. The other CNB car was driven directly behind the Car to make contact with the latter’s rear bumper.

After the Car had been contained, one Sergeant Muhammad Fardlie Bin Ramlie (“Sgt Fardlie”) got off the motorcycle which he was riding, approached the Car, and tried to open the driver’s door. Finding it locked, Sgt Fardlie then used a glass breaker to break the window. He managed to open the door and, at this time, the accused attempted to escape. However, after a violent struggle with Sgt Fardlie and some of the other CNB officers who had arrived by then to assist, the accused was eventually handcuffed and arrested.

The search of the Car

After the accused was arrested, he was escorted into the rear seat of the Car and was flanked on either side by SSS Kua and Senior Station Inspector Ng Tze Chiang Tony (“SSI Tony Ng”). The Car was then driven by one of the CNB officers to a nearby car park at Beatty Road. Nobody sat in the front passenger’s seat of the Car during this journey.

At the Beatty Road car park, SSI Tony Ng searched the Car in the presence of the accused and recovered the following items from the front passenger’s seat:1 one plastic bag (tied), later marked as “A1”, which contained a packet of crystalline substance; and one black and grey chequered plastic bag (untied), later marked as “A2”, which also contained a packet of crystalline substance.

SSI Tony Ng placed the two plastic bags, A1 and A2, into two separate clear Ziploc bags before handing them over to SSI Heng. SSI Heng then recorded a contemporaneous statement2 from the accused in the rear passenger’s seat of the Car at about 6.00am.

The cautioned statement

On the same day, at about 6.30pm, the investigating officer, Deputy Superintendent Tan Seow Keong (“DSP Tan”), recorded a cautioned statement from the accused at the CNB headquarters. The accused’s cautioned statement read as follows:3

If I had knew that the amount of ICE that I was going to collect this morning was 500 grams, I would not have collected the ICE. Before today, I used to collect ICE below the weight of 250 grams. I really do not know why the ICE amount today was 500 grams which is more than usual. The reason for me not dealing with ICE more than 250 grams is that I knew it would be death sentence if I am caught.

The four long statements

Subsequently, DSP Tan recorded four further long statements from the accused.4

In his long statements, the accused stated that he began dealing in ice since the start of 2010. He would get his supply of ice from a Malay man known as “Bapak”, weigh and re-pack the ice into mini-packets, and then sell the mini-packets of ice for a profit.

In early 2011, Bapak asked the accused to deliver ice for him and offered the accused $500 for each delivery. The accused took up the offer and made his first delivery for Bapak sometime in January 2011. On that occasion, he drove his car under the overhead pedestrian bridge at Kranji MRT station and waited for a Malaysian Indian man to place a packet of ice through his front passenger’s window. They did not speak. The accused then drove off to deliver the packet of ice to Bapak’s friend. The $500 which he was promised for making the delivery was duly deducted from the payment for the ice which he bought from Bapak.

The accused made two more deliveries of ice for Bapak—one occurred around the end of January 2011 while the other occurred sometime in February 2011. On both occasions, the accused followed essentially the same modus operandi that was used on the first delivery. He would drive to the overhead pedestrian bridge at Kranji MRT station, wait for a Malaysian Indian man to place a packet of ice through his front passenger’s window, and then drive off to deliver the ice to whomever Bapak instructed him to. As before, the accused was credited $500 after each delivery.

At this point, it is pertinent to note that the accused had also mentioned in his long statements that he received 125g of ice on his first and second deliveries and 250g on his third.

The accused admitted that he was arrested during the early hours of 10 March 2011 for what would have been his fourth delivery of ice for Bapak. According to the accused, he had received instructions from Bapak early that morning at about 4.00am to proceed to Kranji MRT station to collect the ice. The accused complied and, as with previous occasions, stopped his car under the overhead pedestrian’s bridge. In the long statements, the accused said that a Malaysian Indian man approached his car and placed two plastic bags on his front passenger’s seat.5 He then drove off. While he did not open up the plastic bags to check the contents, he knew that they contained ice. He also stated that while he did not know the exact weight of the ice, he assumed that this was less than 250g. As the accused was driving, he received a call from Bapak who instructed him to bring the ice to Woodlands for delivery to its intended recipient. Shortly after this call, however, he found his car being “sandwiched” by the CNB officers at the junction of Lavender Street and Bendemeer Road. This eventually led to his arrest.

The HSA analysis

During the course of investigations, the crystalline substance in the two plastic bags, A1 and A2, were analysed by the Health Sciences Authority. They were found to contain not less than 194.3g and 192.4g of methamphetamine respectively;6 hence the accused’s charge of trafficking in not less than 386.7g of methamphetamine.

The parties’ cases

The prosecution’s case7 was straightforward given the facts. The prosecution submitted that since it was undisputed that the accused was in possession of the two plastic bags containing the drugs, he is presumed under s 18(1)(a) MDA to have had all of the drugs in his possession and further presumed under s 18(2) MDA to have known the nature of the drugs. These presumptions, it was argued, were not rebutted by the accused and thus all that remained to be established was whether the drugs were for the purpose of trafficking. The prosecution submitted that this latter point should be answered in the affirmative because the...

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4 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 11 March 2015
    ...This was an appeal against the decision of the High Court judge (“the Judge”) in Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop [2014] SGHC 125 (“the Judgment”). The accused (“the Respondent”) had claimed trial to the following charge of trafficking in methamphetamine (which we will here......
  • Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop
    • Singapore
    • Court of Three Judges (Singapore)
    • 11 March 2015
    ...This was an appeal against the decision of the High Court judge (“the Judge”) in Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop [2014] SGHC 125 (“the Judgment”). The accused (“the Respondent”) had claimed trial to the following charge of trafficking in methamphetamine (which we will here......
  • Public Prosecutor v Nguyen Thi Thanh Hai
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 15 April 2016
    ...v Pienaar Hermanus Nicolaas, Criminal Case No. 40 of 2014 (28 October 2014, unreported) (“Pienaar”), PP v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop [2014] SGHC 125, PP v Hoang Thi Tuong Van, Criminal Case No. 42 of 2014 (28 May 2015, unreported) (“Hoang Thi Tuong Van”), PP v Nalanggay Norma Verano, Cri......
  • Public Prosecutor v Sinniah a/l Sundram Pillai
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 20 March 2019
    ...rebut this presumption on a balance of probabilities.63 This was the approach taken in Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop [2014] SGHC 125. As part of its case, the Prosecution submitted that the accused was wilfully blind to the quantity of diamorphine in his possession, base......
3 books & journal articles
  • Case Note - THE DOCTRINE OF WILFUL BLINDNESS IN DRUG OFFENCES
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Journal No. 2020, December 2020
    • 1 December 2020
    ...on appeal in Devendran a/l Supramaniam v Public Prosecutor [2015] 3 SLR 1252. 7 Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farip bin Mohd Yusop [2014] SGHC 125 at [36]; Public Prosecutor v Khor Chong Seng [2018] SGHC 219 at [62]–[63]. 8 Tan Kiam Peng v Public Prosecutor [2008] 1 SLR(R) 1 at [156] – [158]......
  • Criminal Law
    • Singapore
    • Singapore Academy of Law Annual Review No. 2014, December 2014
    • 1 December 2014
    ...later: at [82]. 13.9 The High Court also considered the question of wilful blindness in Public Prosecutor v Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop[2014] SGHC 125 (Muhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop). The accused was charged with trafficking methamphetamine, also known as ice. The amount of drugs the accu......
  • The discretionary death penalty for drug couriers in Singapore
    • United Kingdom
    • International Journal of Evidence & Proof, The No. 20-1, January 2016
    • 1 January 2016
    ...[2014] 4 SLR 773(also a judicial review, and which appeal will be heard later in 2015); Public Prosecutor vMuhammad Farid bin Mohd Yusop[2014] SGHC 125 (whether the certification process can be bypassed via an amendment of the charge); Public Prosecutor vMahesvaran a/l Sivalingam [2014] SGH......

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