Former head of international college jailed in Singapore for drug offences

Former head of international college jailed in Singapore for drug offences

Dulwich College head teacher
Former head of Dulwich College Damien Charnock faces charges in relation to illegal drugs. (Photo: Dulwich College Shanghai Pudong)

SINGAPORE: The former head of an international college was sentenced to 10 months' jail on Friday (Oct 25) for drug offences in Singapore.

British national Damien Michael Charnock, 60, pleaded guilty to three charges, including drug consumption and possession, with another two charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Charnock was a curriculum developer at the time of the offences last year.

The former head of Dulwich College Shanghai was arrested for drug-related offences on Mar 5 this year, and a search of the unit he was at uncovered multiple ziplock bags containing crystalline substances as well as a glass utensil with attachments.

Charnock admitted that he owned all the seized items and was taken to Tanglin Police Division for further investigations, said State Prosecuting Officer M Mariyappan.

Methamphetamine was found in the urine samples he provided at the station, and investigations revealed that he had smoked meth or "Ice" before his arrest.

He also said he had been smoking "Ice" since 2017.

In total, the crystalline substances seized contained at least 3.11g of meth, a Class A Controlled Drug.

Charnock also admitted to owning the glass utensil for his meth consumption.

The prosecutor asked for 13 months' jail, noting that Charnock had no previous convictions and that he had charges taken into consideration.

Defence lawyer Remy Choo asked instead for eight months' jail, pointing out that another accused person who had claimed trial in a precedent case was given nine months' jail.

In his mitigation plea, Mr Choo said Charnock's offences represent "a precipitous fall from grace" and are "an aberration in the context of a lifetime of devotion to educational leadership".

"He has been a priest, a principal, a loving and devoted son, and he is unspeakably ashamed of the disrepute he has brought upon himself," said the lawyer.

He pointed out that Charnock has cooperated "extensively" with the Central Narcotics Bureau, and has demonstrated his remorse in "an aggressive and successful attempt to seek rehabilitative treatment".


According to the defence, Charnock had committed offences "completely out of character" for the first time.

These offences "arose out of a lapse in judgment which were completely at variance with the manner in which Charnock has conducted himself for the majority of his adult life".

"The disgrace Charnock faces in having to go to prison is, in itself, punishment given Charnock's good standing in society," he said.

Charnock was previously ordained as a priest and later became an educator.

He has held positions as deputy head of Dulwich International in North London and headmaster of a school in London. He was also former head of Dulwich International Shanghai from August 2014 to September 2017.

His arrest and conviction have "upended his life", the defence said.

"His life's work as a talented and immensely devoted educator lies in tatters," said Mr Choo, adding that his offences have been "prominently featured" in both local and international press.

After he was arrested, Charnock started attending sessions at Narcotics Anonymous and took a course in professional counselling at a specialised addiction treatment centre.

A report from the centre submitted by the defence showed that he has created a detailed relapse prevention plan.

He also cooperated with CNB in trying to identify the supplier of the drugs he was caught with, and provided information including the means of delivery, methods of payment and other information.

The judge granted Charnock's request to speak to his loved one before being taken away and ordered the seized items to be destroyed or forfeited to the police.

Source: CNA/ll(aj)