Jail for former lawyer who scratched and injured CNB officers in struggle during arrest
A former lawyer who developed a drug habit from 2017 scratched a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer in the neck during his arrest, and left the officer with wounds that required a battery of blood and other medical tests.
The 32-year-old also swore at the CNB personnel and put up a violent struggle, injuring four officers in total before he was restrained.
The accused was HIV-positive at the time. Under the Infectious Diseases Act, the accused cannot be named as the law protects the identity of those with HIV infection.
The officer who was scratched underwent six HIV tests and has been declared to be HIV-negative.
The former lawyer was jailed one year and 22 weeks after he pleaded guilty to drug consumption, possession of drug apparatus and voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty.
Another three similar charges were taken into consideration.
The man, who was trained in commercial litigation, had worked as a lawyer for around five years but checks online showed that he is no longer on the lawyer's registry.
The court heard that on March 26 last year, a lawyer, accompanied by a court bailiff, had turned up at the man's rental flat near Bedok to have him evicted.
While at the unit, they found items in the bedroom believed to be drug paraphernalia.
They informed the police, who also recovered a clear ziplock bag containing a crystallised substance.
During the search, the man returned to the unit with his flatmate, who was also a drug user.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wen Kym said the man was aggressive and resisted arrest, but both of them were eventually placed under arrest.
Traces of methamphetamine, otherwise known as Ice, were later found in the former lawyer's urine samples, she added.
He was released on bail the same day but failed to report to the authorities from April 21 and could not be found during checks at his parents' home in Punggol.
On July 8, he returned to his parents' home while CNB officers were there.
DPP Lee said when he was told officers would be placing him under arrest, "the accused raised his voice, struggled violently and shouted vulgarities at the officers".
"In the course of resisting arrest, the accused swung his hands towards the CNB officers and also grabbed and scratched the neck of (an officer), a public servant discharging his duty, intending to cause him hurt."
The officer who was scratched in the neck was given a Hepatitis B vaccine injection.
He also underwent blood tests to check for liver function, Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases. H e was also given a HIV screening.
The DPP urged the judge to sentence the man to one year and six to eight months' jail.
Seeking a sentence of one year and four to five months' jail, defence lawyer Azri Imran Tan, who represented the man on a pro bono basis, said the officers sustained minor injuries.
He added that at the time of the offence, the accused was undergoing anti-retroviral therapy and his viral load was undetectable.
"The implication of having an undetectable viral load in his blood is that there was zero risk that he could have transmitted HIV to the victim," said Mr Tan.
He said the former lawyer was from his batch in law school and was well-regarded.
Mr Tan added that the accused was a caring man who would often worked pro bono, but had struggled with work pressures, a break-up and his dog dying.
"He fell from grace and should've sought help, but despite his rehabilitation, many people still stood by his side," said Mr Tan, who is from IRB Law.
Those who consume drugs can be jailed between one to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.