Doctor in HIV data leak allegedly gave meth injections to client he met on Grindr

Doctor in HIV data leak allegedly gave meth injections to client he met on Grindr

Ler Teck Siang leaving court
Ler Teck Siang leaving the High Court during his appeal against his conviction and sentence for cheating offences. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: The man that Ler Teck Siang - the Singaporean doctor at the centre of the HIV data leak in Singapore - is accused of administering drugs to took the witness stand for the prosecution in an ongoing trial on Wednesday (Jul 10), describing how he came to know of the doctor at a sex and drug session.

Sim Eng Chee, 44, who is currently on home detention for consumption and possession of methamphetamine, described to the court how he came to have a "friendly" client-service provider relationship with Ler involving "slamming services", slang for the intravenous injection of drugs.

Ler, the former head of the Ministry of Health's National Public Health Unit, is contesting two charges: One for administering methamphetamine to Sim in a hotel room on Feb 26 last year, and another for possessing drug utensils.

At the time of his alleged drug-related offences, Ler was facing criminal proceedings for helping his romantic partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez dupe the Ministry of Manpower so that the American could work in Singapore.

READ: HIV-positive status of 14,200 people leaked online

READ: Gan Kim Yong presents timelines behind Mikhy Brochez HIV data leak

Sim, who was a tutor and consultant earning S$7,000 to S$10,000 a month at the time, told the court that he came to know of Ler at a "session" where two or more "sex buddies" met to take drugs and engage in sexual activities.

Sim noticed that his sex partner had a high that was not achievable by smoking meth through a bong, and asked him about it.

Sim then found out that Ler had performed slamming services for his partner. Sim explained that intravenous injection of meth gives a high that is not only immediate, but 10 times stronger than smoking the drug.

Sim then asked for Ler's contact, and was given Ler's profile on Grindr - an app for gay men.

He later contacted Ler on Grindr, who identified himself as Todd, and "established that indeed such a service could be provided".

READ: HIV data leak: Police will ‘spare no effort’ to bring Mikhy Farrera Brochez to justice

SIM BEGAN ENGAGING LER'S SLAMMING SERVICES

Sim, who introduced himself as Jet, subsequently engaged Ler's slamming services and found him "very professional".

Sim told the court that he began abusing drugs from end-2016 and took drugs including meth, ketamine, ecstasy, weed, LSD and cocaine.

According to Sim, Ler's nickname on his Grindr profile once read "Help is here", which he took to mean that "help for slamming is here".

The two men communicated via the Line chat application, with Ler known as Altitude on the app, Sim said.

Sim told the court that Ler would then make "outcalls" to Sim's location in order to administer drugs to him via injection, for S$30 to S$50 per session after factoring in transport costs and discounts.

Ler offered a 50 per cent discount for a second "slam" within 24 hours of the first one, Sim said.

READ: 'It's very traumatic': HIV-positive individuals anxious, frustrated after MOH data leak

Sim contacted Ler only for slamming services. In some of his messages to Ler, Sim would specify the amount of meth he wished to be placed in the needle of the syringe - 0.33g in one instance - as well as how many people would be engaging Ler's services.

He would at times hire Ler for the services of two people - for himself and for a "play" partner.

SIM ONCE OFFERED TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY WITH LER

Although Sim had once offered to "play" - referring to engaging in sexual activity post-drug session - with Ler, this was only out of "politeness" and never occurred, as Sim wanted to maintain a "professional" relationship with Ler.

"Since he will be there to inject me, I don't mind him staying around to play if he's open to it," said Sim. "Because I think if we engage in drugs and the sexual activities that follow, inhibitions will be removed and we are technically quite fine with having sex with everyone."

In messages Sim exchanged with Ler, the court heard that Ler allegedly had other clients he provided slamming services to, and also engaged in "play" himself.

Sim also engaged Ler's legitimate medical services on one occasion. In December 2017, he went to a clinic in Tampines where Ler was a locum and sought medical attention for a cough and a wound on his arm that would not heal.

The wound was not from the point of injection, said Sim, but he guessed that the meth-taking had aggravated it and felt that seeing Ler for it would be a "more prudent choice".

In subsequent slamming sessions, Ler cleaned his dressing and checked the wound for free "out of goodwill", said Sim, who is now a management trainee at a food and beverage outlet.

SIM KEPT DRUGS HE BOUGHT FROM GEYLANG IN HOTEL ROOM

The court was shown closed circuit television footage of a man that Sim identified as Ler entering Swissotel The Stamford on Feb 26 last year.

CCTV footage was also shown of Ler taking a lift with Sim and a man that Sim identified as his sex buddy. The three men then entered a hotel room where another sex partner of Sim's was waiting.

In the room, Sim kept drugs including meth, ecstasy and ketamine in Ziploc bags. He said he had bought the drugs from Geylang in end-2017, and would usually purchase meth in bulk, spending more than S$2,000 a time.

Ler was arrested with Sim at the Conrad Centennial Singapore on Mar 2 last year, after hotel staff found drug-related items in Sim's room.

A syringe, two straws and a bottle were seized from Ler, while two packets of crystalline substances later found to be meth were seized from Sim.

Sim told the court that when when he saw the Central Narcotics Bureau officers, he felt "doomed" as he had bought a large amount of drugs that he was carrying with him and knew that he had to face the consequences for his actions.

LER CONDUCTS OWN CROSS-EXAMINATION

Earlier on Thursday, several analysts from the Health Sciences Authority had taken the stand.

Ler cross-examined them over their analysis of syringes seized, which revealed meth.

He has previously stated that the syringes were for administering insulin to his patients.

Ler is currently serving a two-year jail sentence meted out in November last year for abetting his partner Brochez to cheat the Ministry of Manpower about Brochez's HIV-positive status, and for giving false information to the authorities.

Ler conducted his own defence in purple prison garb, while his mother stayed outside the court and handed him syringes for exhibits when asked to.

He largely looked away while Sim was speaking, and did not meet his eyes.

The trial continues on Thursday, when Ler will also cross-examine Sim on the stand. If found guilty of administering meth to Sim, Ler could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum of S$20,000, or both. 

For possessing drug utensils, he could be jailed for three years, fined a maximum S$10,000 or both.

Source: CNA/ll(aj)

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