Court rejects trafficker’s claim he mistook heroin for cannabis, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Court rejects trafficker’s claim he mistook heroin for cannabis

The Court of Appeal has upheld the death sentence imposed on a 33-year-old Singaporean man who was found guilty of heroin trafficking in 2022.

A total of 25 packets of drugs were found in a drawer in Shen Hanjie’s bedroom on Nov 20, 2018, containing 34.94g of pure heroin.

The apex court rejected his claim that he believed the drug bundles contained cannabis because “Alan”, his supplier, had said it was “shao de” – “hot” in Chinese.

He said he understood this term to be the same as “gu”, “grass” or “ganja”, which are terms for cannabis.

Shen, who was represented by Mr Mervyn Cheong had raised this argument in an attempt to rebut the legal presumption that he knew the nature of the drugs in his possession.

In a judgment on March 1, the three-judge court agreed with the trial judge that it was improbable that Alan had lied about the type of drugs involved, as Shen was keeping records of the transactions in his notebooks so that he could account to Alan on the movement of the drugs.

Shen had written down different entries for “hot” and “gu” in the notebooks, which showed he did not think the two terms referred to the same thing, said the court.

The court added that even if Alan had lied about the nature of the drugs, Shen did not say he would have refused to help Alan, if the drugs were heroin instead.

“He was indifferent as to the nature of the drugs being sent to him by Alan, and appeared to be interested in their names only for the purpose of recording all the transactions so that he could give a proper account to Alan when asked,” said the court.

The Court of Appeal also rejected Shen’s argument that he was merely safekeeping the drugs for Alan, and not holding them for the purpose of trafficking.

During his trial, Shen claimed that Alan asked him to keep the drugs for him first, and that within a month, Alan would “ask his man” to take the drugs from him.

This did not support Shen’s defence as it would involve him delivering the drugs to someone other than Alan, said the court.

The court also noted that this was not Shen’s first transaction with Alan. For the previous transactions, Shen admitted that he would deliver the drugs to other people as directed by Alan.

The court found that Shen failed to give an adequate explanation why this transaction was going to be different.

Shen, who was unemployed at the time of his arrest, consumed crystal methamphetamine, or Ice, daily and had a gambling habit.

He stopped helping out at his father’s coffee shop two years prior to his arrest and received allowances from his parents when he needed money.

His financial woes even led him to pawn various items, including some of his parents’ belongings.

Under the law, the death penalty can be imposed for trafficking in more than 15g of heroin.