Yawning Bread. June 2006

Trainee doctor entrapped for drug possession

source: Straits Times, 8 and 9 June 2006





8 June 2006
The Straits Times

Young doctor jailed eight months for possessing Ice 

Downward spiral began when he experimented with gay sex and drugs 
By Elena Chong

Taxi driver's son Adrian Yeo See Seng had a bright future as a doctor but the 27-year-old threw it all away when he experimented with sex and drugs.

A district court heard yesterday that he spiralled downwards after he started engaging in homosexual sex with strangers he met over the Internet, and taking drugs.

He was caught when a man he chatted with online invited him for a sex session with a third man at a Bencoolen Street hotel.

But the two strangers turned out to be undercover anti-narcotics officers who found drugs on Yeo when he arrived, and arrested him.

He was yesterday jailed for eight months after he had admitted to having a packet of 0.16g of methamphetamine or Ice at the Bencoolen Street hotel room on April 1.

Three charges of possessing Ecstasy and ketamine were taken into consideration during his sentencing.

He was initially charged with three counts of drug trafficking and one of possession.

Yeo attended The Chinese High School and Hwa Chong Junior College and, after national service, trained to become a doctor at the National University of Singapore.

He signed a five-year bond for $400,000 to serve the Government and took a $66,000 bank loan to pay his way through university.

After graduating, he was posted as a houseman first to the National University Hospital last year and then to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in March this year.

But his world came crashing down on April Fool's Day when Central Narcotics Bureau officers arrested him at Hotel 81 at about 3.45pm, and took an envelope containing crystalline substances in a plastic bag from his haversack.

In his written plea for leniency, counsel Kertar Singh hoped his client could get probation and a second chance.

He said Yeo was consumed with a deep sense of guilt and shame.

Mr Singh said Yeo's descent into sex and drugs began after he failed one of his final examination papers in March last year and had to re-sit the paper.

He was devastated at failing. While anxiously awaiting the result of his second try, the counsel said, he poured out his sorrows to strangers over an Internet chatline for homosexuals.

Mr Singh said Yeo, who had been been attracted to males since he was a teenager, began engaging in gay sex with different partners - including strangers - and also started taking synthetic drugs for the first time.

About a week before he was caught, Yeo chatted online with a man named Joe about sex and drugs.

On March 31, Mr Singh said, Joe said he had a friend named Jacob and asked if Yeo would be keen on having three-way sex.

Joe also said he had some drugs and asked if Yeo had any.

Yeo went to the hotel, but Joe and Jacob turned out to be undercover narcotics officers and he was arrested.

District Judge Wong Keen Onn ruled out probation, saying Yeo was a mature adult who was not suffering from any mental disorder.

Mr Singh had objected to the manner in which Yeo was lured and arrested, but the judge said there was nothing to suggest that CNB officers had acted illegally or had gone beyond the boundary of the law.

Yeo could have been jailed for up to 10 years or fined up to $20,000 or sentenced to both a jail term and fine for having drugs.

Several family members, including his father and housewife mother, were in court yesterday, but they declined to speak to reporters.

* * * * *

9 June 2006
The Straits Times


Lawyers say narcotics officers crossed the line in quest to nab offender, but any method of entrapment is legal here
By Stephanie Yap

Passing time in an Internet chatroom one night, Adrian Yeo met a man called Joe. Over the following few days, Joe was quite persistent, sending him SMS messages asking if he had drugs, and if he wanted to meet up 'to have fun'.

According to Yeo's mitigation plea submitted in court, he refused the first few times. Eventually, the 26-year-old trainee doctor gave in and met Joe, and another man, Jacob, at a Hotel 81, on April Fools Day this year.

When he arrived at the hotel, he got a nasty surprise. Both men turned out to be undercover Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers, who found 0.16g of methamphetamine on him.

Arrested for drug possession, Yeo was sentenced to eight months in jail on Wednesday. The time in prison requires him to break a $400,000 five-year bond with the Government, and casts a shadow on his medical career.

CNB has often been known to employ the same methods it used to catch Yeo.

Said CNB spokesman Amelia Oh 'CNB is aware that drug offenders use various means to conduct their illegal activities and have come across instances of some of them using the Internet to do so.

'Based on intelligence gathered and feedback received, CNB will monitor channels of information, including chatrooms, to detect and apprehend drug offenders.'

Unlike countries such as the United States and Canada, where evidence gathered through 'excessive' entrapment can be thrown out of court, evidence obtained through any method of entrapment is lawful in Singapore.

Entrapment is often used when the authorities know an individual is committing an offence, but cannot catch him in the act, said retired police detective Lionel de Souza.

'It can be difficult to catch a person red-handed even if you already have information that he is breaking the law.

'In the case of drug possession, you can invite him to meet you and hope he arrives with drugs,' he said.

However, Yeo's lawyer, Mr Kertar Singh, argued that CNB officers overstepped a boundary.

'Yes, the whole exercise is not illegal, but in all fairness what was done by CNB was not appropriate.

'They went into the chatline and lured people in by saying certain things. An innocent, naive person might find himself in this kind of situation, then get caught,' he said.

According to Yeo's mitigation presented in court, he initially refused the undercover officer's requests to meet him. While he admitted to the officer he had drugs, he said they were for his own consumption only.

Yeo finally accepted an invitation to meet Joe and Joe's boyfriend for sex at the Bencoolen Street Hotel 81 on April 1. Joe told Yeo he had some Ecstasy, and asked if Yeo had drugs. Yeo said he would bring some.

While lawyers agree some entrapment is necessary for law enforcement, they say officers should not tempt an otherwise unwilling person to commit a crime.

'I don't think officers should be encouraging people to commit offences. I'm very uncomfortable with that,' said Mr Peter Low, chairman of the Law Society's criminal practice committee.

Mr Subhas Anandan, president of the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore, agreed.

'Of course, a certain degree of entrapment should be allowed, otherwise you can't catch crooks. But they mustn't cross the line.'

CNB did cross the line, in Mr Anandan's opinion, in a 2003 case in which insurance agent Teo Ya Lin was pressed by an undercover CNB officer to obtain an Ecstasy pill for him, promising to buy a big policy from her in return. Teo got him a pill, for which she was sentenced to six years and three months in jail.

'This girl had no intention of selling drugs until she was repeatedly persuaded by the officer. She would not under normal circumstances be a trafficker. The temptation is put forward,' said Mr Anandan.

The veteran defence lawyer, who has personally seen three cases of excessive entrapment in the past year, believes it is a growing problem.

'It has come to a stage where people are talking about it. I can't give figures offhand, but the number is enough to be a little bit scary,' he said.

The Association of Criminal Lawyers plans to put the entrapment issue to the Government in a paper it is preparing, which Mr Anandan estimates will be ready in a month or two.

Mr Low said the Law Society is not currently looking into the issue as it is working on capital punishment reform.

'However, entrapment law reform would be timely,' he said.

Both lawyers point out that entrapment laws were revised in 2001 in Britain, on which Singapore models its legal system.

In an October 2001 landmark case, the House of Lords ruled that it was 'simply not acceptable that the state, through its agents, should lure its citizens into committing acts forbidden by the law and then seek to prosecute them for doing so'.

The case involved Spencer Grant Looseley, who was approached several times by an undercover police officer who tried to get him to sell drugs.

Reform in Singapore may take a while yet, but Mr Anandan suggested in the meantime, judges can indicate in their verdict their dissatisfaction with the current entrapment laws, in the hope of inspiring legislative change.

'Parliament must do something. For the judiciary, their hands are tied as the law is very clear.'


Foreword by Yawning Bread

See the commentary article in Courts must pay attention to the quality of justice