Doctor in HIV data leak case stands trial over alleged sale of illegal drug injections

Doctor in HIV data leak case stands trial over alleged sale of illegal drug injections

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 doctor at the centre of the HIV data leak in Singapore allegedly sold illegal drug injections to customers while criminal proceedings were ongoing over charges of abetting his partner to cheat government agencies.

Ler Teck Siang, 37, is accused of using his medical skills to provide "slamming services", which refers to the administration of controlled drugs by injection to consumers.

This was after he had been charged in June 2016 for abetting his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez to cheat the Ministry of Manpower so the latter could work in Singapore, the prosecution said on Thursday (May 30).

READ: What we know about Mikhy Farrera Brochez

READ: Doctor at heart of HIV data leak claims he lied to police to 'retaliate' against MOH 'discrimination'

Ler, whose mother was the only other person in the public gallery, returned to court on Thursday (May 30) to stand trial for two drug charges he faces. He told the judge at the opening of the trial that he was "indeed not guilty".

Dressed in a purple prison jumpsuit and sporting a buzz cut, Ler asked District Judge Christopher Goh if he could be given pen and paper since he was representing himself, and was granted his request.

The two charges he is contesting in the trial are for administering methamphetamine to another man, Sim Eng Chee, at a hotel room in Swissotel The Stamford on Feb 26 last year; and for possessing drug utensils.

According to the prosecution, Ler had administered meth to Sim for a fee at Swissotel The Stamford, before going to another hotel Mr Sim was at on Mar 2 last year for the same services.

On the second occasion at the Conrad Centennial Hotel, hotel staff discovered drugs and drug-related paraphernalia in Sim's hotel room before Ler and Sim could enter.

The two men were detained when they went to the hotel reception area, and they were later arrested after the case was referred to the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).

ITEMS SEIZED FROM THE TWO MEN INCLUDE METH PACKETS: PROSECUTION

The prosecution said that several items were seized from the two men and Sim's hotel room, including a used syringe, two straws, a bottle and three packets with crystalline substances in them.

The packets contained the same batch of meth that Ler had administered to Sim at Swissotel The Stamford, alleged the prosecutors.

Deputy Public Prosecutors Nicholas Wuan and Desmond Chong in their opening statement said that the case was one "of a medical practitioner who knows no bounds in betraying his professional and ethical standards in pursuit of his self-interests".

"The accused is a doctor, and was first charged in court on 28 June 2016 for offences in relation to ... abetting his partner to cheat a government agency so that his partner could work in Singapore," said the prosecution.

Even though there were ongoing criminal proceedings against him, Ler supplemented his income via illicit sources, said the prosecution.

Ler was allegedly "so proficient" in this that word of his services reached the ears of Sim in 2017, who engaged Ler's services for a fee.

"When the law finally caught up with him, the accused showed no remorse, and even tried to use his status to protest his arrest," said the prosecutors.

They intend to prove their case with testimonies from various witnesses including Sim's, along with text message records from Sim's mobile phone and analyses from the Heath Sciences Authority (HSA).

Ler was sentenced to two years' jail in November last year for abetting his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez to cheat the Ministry of Manpower about Brochez's HIV-positive status, and for giving false information to the Ministry of Health and the police.

His sentence and conviction were upheld despite Ler appealing to the High Court in March. 

The trial is set to continue for the rest of Thursday and Friday. If found guilty of administering meth to Sim, he could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined a maximum of S$20,000, or both. 

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

Ler faces another two charges - one of failing to provide a urine specimen to CNB and another under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information of those who are HIV-positive. 

The charges have been stood down or set aside for the time being.

Source: CNA/ll

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