Ali bin Mohamad Bahashwan v PP and other appeals [2018] 1 SLR 610


2018

Our client was charged with and convicted of trafficking in heroin under section 5(1)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act (the “MDA”). He was sentenced to death. We acted for him in his appeal to the Court of Appeal against his conviction and sentence.

At the Court of Appeal, we argued successfully against the Prosecution on a point of law. At issue was whether the High Court’s decision in Liew Zheng Yang v Public Prosecutor [2017] 5 SLR 611 (“Liew Zheng Yang”) ought to be affirmed as good law. We had also acted for the accused in Liew Zheng Yang, and had successfully persuaded the High Court in Liew Zheng Yang that an accused who orders drugs from another for his own consumption (i.e., a “consuming-recipient”) cannot be liable for abetting the latter to traffic drugs to himself. Accordingly, Liew’s conviction of abetting in a conspiracy to traffic controlled drugs was quashed.

The Prosecution in Ali bin Mohamad Bahaswan v Public Prosecutor and other appeals [2018] 1 SLR 610 argued that Liew Zheng Yang had been wrongly decided, and urged the Court of Appeal to overrule Liew Zheng Yang. In response, we made submissions urging the Court of Appeal to endorse Liew Zheng Yang. The Court of Appeal ultimately decided in our favour on this point of law, and held that a person would incur no criminal liability under section 5 read with section 12 of the MDA for abetting another to traffic in drugs to himself if the drugs were meant for his own consumption, i.e., if he, like Liew, was a consuming-recipient. He would only be so liable if the Prosecution is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to traffic in the offending drugs. This is an important decision that protects consuming-recipients against a conviction of trafficking.

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