PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today sentenced a Singaporean to a total of 31 years in jail after he pleaded guilty to two counts of drug possession at an apartment in Johor Bahru six years ago.
Tan Khee Sen, 62, a coffee shop worker in Singapore, had his drug trafficking conviction and death sentence set aside after the appeals court found that the trial judge had misdirected herself.
Justice Hashim Hamzah, who delivered the oral ruling, said the trial judge had omitted to state whether Tan was in actual or presumed possession of the drug when he was called to enter his defence.
“We are bound by a Federal Court ruling and find that the conviction for trafficking is unsafe,” he said.
The panel, which included bench chairman Justice Kamaludin Said and Justice Nordin Hassan, had earlier heard submissions from court-assigned counsel Abdul Kadir, appearing for Tan, and deputy public prosecutor Wong Poi Yoke.
Two years ago, the Johor Bahru High Court had found Tan guilty of trafficking 4kg of methamphetamine at a Mayland Austin apartment at about 12.45pm on Sept 15, 2016.
He was also found guilty of trafficking 243gm of the methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) drug at the same place and time.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, a person in possession of 50gm or more of either drug is presumed by law to be a trafficker.
Kamaludin ordered Tan to be sentenced to 16 years for the first count and 15 years for the second, with the jail terms to run concurrently.
He will, therefore, serve a jail term of 16 years calculated from the date of his arrest on Sept 15, 2016.
The judge said Tan was lucky to be spared the minimum 10 strokes of the rotan prescribed for the offences, as the law exempts males aged 50 years and above from being whipped.
Tan’s defence was that he did not have exclusive control and possession of the apartment as he was not the tenant who entered into an agreement with the property owner.
However, that defence was rejected by the court, with Nordin pointing out that Tan was in possession of the key to the unit at the time of his arrest.
Evidence also showed that a police raiding party had observed Tan, who attempted to flee when approached.