The Accused Was a Mere Courier

Zamri Bin Mohd Tahir v Public Prosecutor [2019] SGCA 9

1. Introduction

In 2017, the High Court (the “HC”) had convicted Zamri Bin Mohd Thair (“Zamri”) of being in possession of diamorphine for the purposes of trafficking and sentenced him to suffer death (see Public Prosecutor v Zamri Bin Mohd Tahir [2017] SGHC 79). The HC had made a finding that Zamri was not a mere courier of the drugs in question.

Zamri’s charge read

That you, ZAMRI BIN MOHD TAHIR, on 14 October 2014 at about 12.25 pm, in the vehicle bearing registration number GT 5611R at the car park located at Block 609 Clementi West Street 1, Singapore, did traffic in a Class ‘A’ controlled drug listed in the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed), to wit, by having in your possession for the purpose of trafficking five (5) packets containing not less than 1835.50 grams of granular/powdery substance which was analysed and found to contain not less than 40.37g of diamorphine, without authorisation under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under s 5(1)(a) read with s 5(2) punishable under s 33(1) of the Act, and further upon your conviction under s 5(1)(a) read with s 5(2) of the Act, you may alternatively be liable to be punished under s 33B of the Act.

2. Appeal to Court of Appeal

We had not acted for Zamri in the High Court proceedings, but were appointed to act in his appeal to the Court of Appeal (the “CA”).

We successfully submitted before the CA that the trial judge had erred in finding that Zamri was not a mere courier. The CA accepted our submissions that it could not have been said that Zamri had in fact done or had committed to doing anything that would take him outside the ambit of the acts of a mere courier as defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act. Crucially, at the time of Zamri’s arrest, no instructions had been given to him as to how to deal with the drugs, and there was no evidence as to what such instructions would have been in any event. In other words, all he had done up to that point in time was nothing more than to collect and transport the drugs.

3. Conclusion 

Notwithstanding the above and given that the Public Prosecutor elected not to grant a certificate of substantive assistance to Zamri, the alternative sentencing regime under Section 33B(1)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act could not apply. The Court of Appeal therefore had no power to overturn the sentence of death meted out by the HC judge.