Audrey Tay, daughter of The Hour Glass founders, has appeal against sentence dismissed

Audrey Tay, daughter of The Hour Glass founders, has appeal against sentence dismissed

Audrey Tay daughter of Hour Glass founders
Audrey Tay May Li, daughter of the founders of luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass, pleaded guilty on Aug 27, 2018 to taking drugs. (Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: The daughter of the founders of a luxury watch chain on Friday (Mar 15) had an appeal against her jail sentence for taking drugs and causing a car crash dismissed in the High Court.

Audrey Tay May Li, the 45-year-old daughter of The Hour Glass founders, was sentenced in October last year to 22 months in jail and fined S$1,000 for three drug charges and one charge of driving without due care or attention. She was also disqualified from driving for 18 months upon her release. 

She had pleaded guilty in August last year to the offences. Another five charges were taken into consideration in her sentencing.

She was on bail when she drove her Toyota Vellfire while high on drugs, hitting a traffic light pole and uprooting it. Three lanes on the opposite side of the road were closed due to the crash.

In throwing out the appeal on Friday, Judge of Appeal Tay Yong Kwang said it is “clear” that Tay knew what she was doing when she committed the offences.

“Despite knowing that what she was doing was wrong, she decided to carry on,” the judge added. 

Addressing Tay, he added: “I sincerely hope you will be able to fully recover from your drug problems, and finally put this sad episode behind.”

Tay’s lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam first argued against a jail sentence. If a jail term were imposed, said Mr Thuraisingam, a maximum sentence of 12 months would be sufficient.

He added she had not had drugs since the last offence and had shown “significant progress”, going for regular urine tests.

The prosecution, however, noted that Tay only cleaned up her act when she heard the “clank of prison gates”.


Tay's first offence was in August 2015. She had gone to a Thai restaurant at Orchard Towers, where a transsexual named Jeri offered her "something to relax" in the female toilet, court documents said.

Tay then used a straw that Jeri had offered her to snort powder that Jeri had laid on the toilet seat cover. Tay was aware that the powder was "K" or ketamine, which is a Class A controlled drug, investigations revealed.

She left Orchard Towers after this and drove to meet a friend. While driving along a three-lane road, her car mounted a kerb, collided into the central divider of Newton Road and crashed into a traffic light.

The impact of the crash caused the traffic light pole to topple over, obstructing all three lanes on the opposite side of the road, and also uprooted the central divider.

The total cost of repairing both fixtures was about S$3,000, according to the Land Transport Authority.

While on bail for these offences, Tay agreed to undergo a psychiatric assessment at the expense of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on Oct 10, 2017.

However, she went to IMH in an intoxicated state on the day of her appointment. As her urine tested positive for ketamine and benzodiazepines, her psychiatrist reported this to the CNB.

She was arrested by CNB officers outside IMH and taken back to CNB headquarters for investigations, where she was searched. Several items were seized from her, including a black pouch with a powdery substance, stained straws and packets of powdery substances which were found to be ketamine.

Her urine samples were found to contain norketamine, a metabolite of ketamine, which meant she had consumed the drug. Tay admitted that she had relapsed into consuming drugs two months before and took them twice a week.

She admitted to consuming ketamine on Oct 9, 2017, in the toilet of a petrol kiosk along Bukit Timah Road by herself, when her chauffeur had stopped to refuel.


In arguing her mitigation during her sentencing, Tay was in emotional pain due to rejection from her daughter, Mr Thuraisingam said.

In October 2014, Tay's ex-husband obtained a Personal Protection Order against her on behalf of the couple's eldest daughter. This came after Tay allegedly caned the girl because she did not do her homework, played truant and lied. 

On the girl's birthday on Aug 27, 2015 – when the first set of offences took place – Tay brought gifts and a cake to her ex-husband's home to celebrate the day with her daughter. 

But her ex-husband refused to let her in and threw away the cake and gifts, court documents said. 

That night, Tay did not take her psychiatric medication and went to the Thai restaurant at Orchard Towers to get takeaway food. She planned to meet a close friend after that at Serangoon. 

Mr Thuraisingam said her mental health issues dated back to 2006, when she realised that the relationship between her parents, Mr Henry Tay and Ms Jannie Chan, had taken a turn for the worse.

Her family of 14 people was then living in three bungalows with shared facilities. Tay tried to mend the family relations, but without success. In 2010, her parents divorced, which took a "huge emotional toll" and caused her to feel suicidal, the lawyer said in his written submissions. 

Tay's relationship with her father deteriorated after the divorce, and worsened after he began a romantic relationship with another woman in 2013.

Tay also faced marriage problems herself. She and her husband divorced in 2009 after 10 years of marriage. They have three children, who are now aged 16, 14 and 12.

Because of the divorce and other events, Tay has adjustment disorder, with elements of anxiety and depression, and it led to her acting recklessly, Mr Thuraisingam said.

She could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to S$20,000 for consuming ketamine, while her driving offence could have cost her a fine of up to S$1,000 and up to six months' jail.

Tay, who is out on bail, is expected to surrender herself to the State Courts on Apr 15 to start her sentence.

Source: CNA/ja(aj)