SINGAPORE: The doctor at the centre of a data leak from Singapore's HIV register was on Thursday (Oct 17) sentenced to 15 months in jail for drug offences.
Dr Ler Teck Siang will serve his sentence at the end of his ongoing two-year jail term for abetting his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez to cheat the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about Brochez's HIV-positive status, and for giving false information to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the police.
Dr Ler, who was formerly the head of the National Public Health Unit at the Ministry of Health, was sentenced on Thursday for two offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
He was found guilty of intentionally aiding Sim Eng Chee, a former tutor and consultant, to consume methamphetamine and for being in possession of a syringe that was intended for the administration of a controlled drug.
The court heard that Sim first got to know of Dr Ler’s “slamming" services – slang for the intravenous injection of drugs – through a sex buddy who showed him Dr Ler’s profile on mobile app Grindr in 2017.
Sim had sought Dr Ler’s slamming services and continued to engage him from the second half of 2017 at the Four Seasons and InterContinental hotels until their arrests on Mar 2 last year.
The court was told that Dr Ler had charged Sim more than S$40 for each slam, and about S$20 for every repeat slam within 24 hours.
On occasions, the doctor would provide the slamming services in the presence of other people, including Dr Ler's housemate Chris Lefebvre, who was introduced as an "apprentice or assistant".
Sim had also gone to the doctor once for legitimate medical services at a clinic in Tampines, where he was working as locum at the end of December 2017.
On Feb 26 last year, Sim texted Dr Ler for slamming services at the Swissotel The Stamford. The court heard that the doctor then injected Sim with the drug after he got ready for sex with two other persons, who were also in the hotel room.
KEPT DRUGS IN HOTEL SAFE
The two men were arrested at the Conrad Centennial Hotel on Mar 2 last year.
Sim had checked into the hotel on Mar 1 and extended his stay for another day as he liked the room, and locked his drugs in the hotel safe. He then left for Geylang to get more drugs and contacted Ler through the Line app to engage his slamming services.
The drugs were discovered by a hotel security officer, who locked the door after contacting management and the police.
READ: Seized syringe was for patients' insulin, claims doctor accused of selling illegal drug injections
When Sim arrived at the hotel around 3.40pm, Ler was waiting in the lobby and the two men went up to the room, which they could not get into.
Sim sensed something was "not right", the court heard, and told Dr Ler to "stay away from him". Sim and Dr Ler were stopped by police officers after they headed down to reception.
Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers arrested both men and found a syringe, two straws and a bottle inside Dr Ler's bag. Two packets of meth were also seized from Sim.
CLAIMED SYRINGE WAS TO "CLEAN TEETH"
Dr Ler, who defended himself, claimed he was referring to prostate massages, prostate stimulation and perineum massages when he said he offered "slamming services".
He also claimed in his investigative statements he intended to use the syringe that was found in his bag to "clean his teeth", but changed that to say it belonged to his partner Brochez and had intended to throw it away.
The doctor said Sim was "falsely incriminating" him and that he had not administered any drugs to Sim on Feb 26, 2018 and had instead provided sports and prostatic massages, and changed Sim's dressing for a wound.
On Thursday, District Judge Christopher Goh said he found Sim’s version “more believable” and that Sim gave evidence that was consistent with the Line text messages.
The judge added that Sim had no reason to lie as he had already been convicted.
Dr Ler’s evidence, on the other hand, was “disingenuous and illogical”.
His explanations were also not given to CNB after his arrest and were not in his defence case, the judge added.
District judge Goh said that he found some of the explanations “difficult to accept”.
“Taken in their entity, and the context they were made in, the explanations show the lengths Ler would go in trying to explain messages that were detrimental to his case. I was, in fact, incredulous at some of these explanations,” he said.
Dr Ler's medical registration has been suspended for nine months, the Singapore Medical Council announced in March this year.