Satli bin Masot v Public Prosecutor

CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeKarthigesu JA
Judgment Date30 March 1999
Neutral Citation[1999] SGCA 22
Citation[1999] SGCA 22
Subject MatterEvidence,Witnesses,s 116 illustration (g) Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Ed),Whether should raise doubts as to identity of drugs,Break in chain of evidence,Prosecution failing to call or to identify CNB officer transporting drug exhibits,Whether to draw adverse inference against Prosecution,Prosecution's failure to offer witnesses to Defence,Proof of evidence
Date30 March 1999
Defendant CounselLuke Tan Loke Yong (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Plaintiff CounselPeter Keith Fernando (Leo Fernando) and Dara Singh (Salem Ibrahim & Partners)
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 1 of 1999
Published date19 September 2003


(delivering the grounds of judgment of the court): The appellant, Satli bin Masot, was charged in the High Court that he, on 20 June 1998, at or about 3.48pm, at Blk 99 Kang Ching Road, [num ]10-616, Singapore, did traffic in a controlled drug specified in Class `A` of the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act by having in his possession for the purposes of trafficking seven packets, 255 sachets and one bowl containing not less than 147.58 g of diamorphine, without any authorization under the said Act or the regulations made thereunder, and that he had thereby committed an offence under s 5(1)(a) read with s 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185) (`MDA`). At the end of the trial, the trial judge convicted the appellant of the charge and sentenced him to the mandatory punishment of death. The appellant appealed against his conviction and sentence. After hearing counsel for the appellant, we dismissed the appeal. We now give our reasons.

2. The prosecution`s case

On 20 June 1998 at about 3.45pm, a party of officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (`CNB`) consisting of S/Sgt Ravi Vellu, Sgt Nasaruddin Abdul Rahman, Cpl Nazir Ali Kahn and Sgt Dean Goh raided a one room flat at Block 99 Kang Ching Road [num ]10-616 (`the flat`). Another member of the team, Sgt Edwin Lee Mun Fong, was stationed at the foot of the block. The appellant`s wife, Nurul Syafiqa bte Abdullah (`Nurul`), was alone in the flat when the raiding party arrived and she was placed under arrest. The raiding party then proceeded to search the premises for drugs in her presence. Meanwhile, Sgt Edwin Lee was summoned to the flat. When Sgt Edwin Lee knocked on the door, Nurul shouted to the person outside the flat to run away. She only calmed down after receiving several stern warnings from the CNB officers in the flat. The CNB officers then resumed their search of the flat for drugs. At various locations in the flat, they found stashes of yellowish granular substance which they believed to be diamorphine.

3.At about 4.10pm, the CNB officers realized that there was someone outside the flat trying to enter it. The CNB officers rushed out and arrested the person at the door. The person was the appellant, who lived at the flat. The CNB officers brought the appellant into the flat and then resumed their search of the premises. Further stashes of drugs were discovered at various locations in the flat. Various drug related paraphernalia including a electronic digital weighing scale, stacks of plastic sachets, 62 lighters, a pair of pincers as well as stacks of pink envelopes were also recovered.

4.At about 5.50pm, Insp Cindy Goh (`Insp Goh`) (PW6) of the Major Investigation Branch (`MIB`), CNB arrived at the scene and took over investigations from the raiding party. She was assisted by one S/Sgt Tai Kwong Yong (`S/Sgt Tai`) and one Sgt Patrick Phao (`Sgt Phao`). Insp Goh directed S/Sgt Koh Siah Heng (PW1) from the Scene of Crime Unit (`SCU`) of the Criminal Investigation Department to take 69 photographs of the scene and of the drugs. The various exhibits, including the drugs, were labelled by Insp Goh for the purposes of taking the photographs. In total, the drugs recovered from the premises consisted of seven packets, 255 sachets, one bowl and one phial of diamorphine, 1 sachet of methamphetamine and some cannabis mixture. Of the seven packets of drugs seized, five were contained in a grey Bata bag found beside the appellant`s bed. In addition, four further sachets of diamorphine were also found in an orange waist-pouch sported by the appellant. At about 8.45pm, the investigations at the scene were completed and the CNB officers left the scene with the appellant, Nurul and the exhibits seized by the CNB officers.

5.At about 11.50pm on the same day, Insp Goh weighed all the drug exhibits in the presence of both Nurul and the appellant. On 21 June 1998, Insp Goh sealed and re-marked the drug exhibits which were then sent to the Department of Scientific Services (`DSS`) for analyses. Dr Lee Tong Kooi (PW4) of the DSS analysed all the drugs seized and put up 13 reports in respect of all the drug exhibits. The drugs in the seven packets, 255 sachets and one bowl, which form the basis of the present charge, were found to contain not less than 147.58 g of diamorphine, of which the five packets in the grey Bata bag accounted for 82.98 g.

6.Upon his arrest, the appellant gave a number of statements to the CNB officers which were admitted in evidence. In his s 122(6) statement, the appellant completely exonerated his wife, claiming that she had nothing to do with the heroin found in the flat. He confessed that all the heroin found, save the five packets found in the grey Bata bag, were his. In his long statement recorded between 23 June 1998 and 9 September 1998, he reiterated the point that his wife had no knowledge of his drug trafficking activities. He confessed to having sold heroin since early August 1997 and explained in some detail the sources from which he obtained his heroin supplies, the regularity and price at which he obtained the same, how he collected the heroin supplies from his suppliers, how he repacked the heroin into sachets for sale, how his customers contacted him, how he delivered the heroin supplied to his customers, how they paid him as well as the rates at which he was selling heroin and replenishing his stock. He admitted to having made a profit of about $30,000 since his drug trafficking activities began.

7.The appellant further confessed in his long statement that all the heroin seized from his flat on 20 June 1998 were meant for sale except for the five packets in the grey Bata bag. He stated that he did not intend to keep any of the sachets of heroin for his own consumption as he would normally consume the loose heroin remaining when he repacked the heroin into sachets. As for the five packets in the grey Bata bag, he disclaimed ownership of them, claiming that they belonged to the Malaysian male Chinese from whom he had bought drugs on three or four occasions. He stated that a week before his arrest, he had ordered two packets of heroin from this Malaysian male Chinese who however delivered seven packets to the appellant, asking the appellant to keep the remaining five packets for him.

8. The proceedings below

At the trial, Insp Goh was called as a prosecution witness. During cross-examination, Insp Goh testified that for the purposes of transporting the drug exhibits back to the MIB, the drug exhibits were placed into individual plastic bags and then placed together in a large plastic bag. She testified that only three persons - herself, S/Sgt Tai and Sgt Phao - were involved in transporting the drug exhibits from the flat back to the MIB using the CNB staff car. When questioned by counsel for the appellant, she testified that she did not personally carry the large plastic bag containing the drugs from the flat to the staff car. She remembered that it was either S/Sgt Tai or Sgt Phao who carried it, although she could not recall exactly which of the two officers it was. However, she testified during re-examination that, during the time the drug exhibits were being carried down by either S/Sgt Tai or Sgt Phao from the flat to the CNB staff car, she had the drugs in her view all the time. The prosecution did not call both S/Sgt Tai and Sgt Phao to give evidence, nor were they offered as witnesses to the defence.

9. The defence

In the court below, the appellant did not challenge the...

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