High Court: Judge's copied ruling not reliable
But High Court finds sufficient grounds to uphold man's conviction for drug use
The High Court found a district judge had copied the prosecution's closing arguments to such a degree that his ruling could not be relied on to justify an accused man's conviction and sentence.
Still, Justice Aedit Abdullah upheld Lim Chee Huat's conviction and 11-month jail sentence for drug consumption.
In hearing Lim's appeal, Justice Aedit said: "I find that as substantial copying had occurred... it therefore could not be relied upon to support the appellant's conviction."
The judge found that, based on the record of proceedings and submissions, there were sufficient grounds to convict Lim on the charge of drug consumption. This was especially so when Lim failed to convince the court he had taken the substance as medication bought from a medicine man.
"Only perhaps the most trusting and naive would consume the medication so unwittingly. It is hard to see this matching the probabilities of the situation here," he said.
He also said a remittal should be ordered only in limited circumstances such as if a trial court has to consider new material.
Justice Aedit said the case does not require a retrial as the evidence did not depend on assessing the demeanour of the witnesses, and given Lim's defence, the court's assessment should be on consistency and probabilities of Lim's defence.
Lim, a first-time offender, had tested positive on his urine sample in November 2016.
On appeal, Lim's lawyer argued the district judge had plagiarised part of the prosecution's closing submissions, making the grounds "worthless".
DPPs Isaac Tan and Chin Jincheng accepted the district judge's grounds of decision was "strikingly similar" to the prosecution's closing submissions but countered the grounds of decision did refer to matters not in the prosecution's submissions.
This showed the judge's consideration of the matters at trial, they added.
The district judge, who was not named, was Mr Mathew Joseph. It is understood to be the practice for a lower court judge at first instance not to be named by the appeal judge in the decision grounds issued.
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