Review of Concluded Criminal Appeal

Alleged Drug Trafficker’s Conviction Reviewed

1. Introduction

Our Singapore criminal lawyers have acted for the accused since 2013 as assigned counsel under the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences.

Ilechukwu’s charge read


on 13th day of November 2011, sometime between 10.16 p.m. and 11.34 p.m. along River Valley Road Singapore, did traffic a ‘Class A’ controlled drug listed in the First Schedule to the Misuse of Drugs Act (Cap 185, 2008 Rev Ed), to wit, by giving to one Hamidah Binte Awang (NRIC No. Sxxxx602D) two packets containing 2,496 grams of crystalline substance, which was analysed and found to contain not less than 1,963.3 grams of methamphetamine, without any authorization under the said Act or the Regulations made thereunder, and you have thereby committed an offence under section 5(1)(a) and punishable under section 33 of the said Act, and further upon your conviction under section 5(1) of the said Act, you may alternatively be liable to be punished under section 33B of the said Act.

2. Background of the Concluded Criminal Appeal

In 2014, we conducted Ilechukwu’s trial. He was acquitted of the charge of drug trafficking. His case was reported here: Public Prosecutor v Hamidah Bte Awang and another [2015] SGHC 4.

However, in Public Prosecutor v Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi [2015] SGCA 33, the Court of Appeal reversed his acquittal and convicted him as charged. The criminal proceedings were then remitted back to the High Court to decide on whether Ilechukwu should be sentenced to suffer death, or to life imprisonment.

While the sentencing proceedings were still on-going, we filed an application to the Court of Appeal to reopen the case by relying on a psychiatric report put forward by the Attorney-General’s Chambers for sentencing arguments.

The psychiatric report was prepared by a psychiatrist of Institute of Mental Health in March. It was reported that Ilechukwu suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This was a result of childhood trauma that came from witnessing tribal killings at his hometown in Nigeria.

It was further reported that Ilechukwu’s PTSD symptoms were triggered after the Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”) told him that he faced the death penalty. This caused him to lie in his statements.

The Court opined that the psychiatric report contradicted key parts of its 2015 decision where Ilechukwu was convicted as there were no explanations for his lies other than “his realisation of his guilt”.

In a rare move by the Court of Appeal, in Ilechukwu Uchechukwu Chukwudi v Public Prosecutor [2017] SGCA 44, the Court remitted the criminal proceedings to the High Court. The Court agreed with us that there was a possibility that it had made an error in its 2015 decision.

3. Concluding remarks

The conviction of an alleged Nigerian drug trafficker was ordered to be reviewed, after we successfully argued before the Court of Appeal that a psychiatric report (on PTSD) prepared by the prosecution for sentencing arguments contradicted key parts of the Court’s prior decision to convict.

Read our summary about the case: Singapore Court of Appeal Potentially Erred in Convicting the Accused.