SINGAPORE: A commercial diver who habitually smoked cannabis or "marijuana", purportedly to relieve the back pain he experienced due to his job, was sentenced to nine years' jail on Monday (Oct 25) for drug offences including possessing about 2.4kg of the drug.
Muhammad Haikal Mohamadan, 31, pleaded guilty to three charges including drug consumption, possession of a Class A controlled drug and possession of drug utensils. A fourth charge was considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Haikal was acquainted with co-accused Muhammad Shahrukh Khan Mohamed Rosli, who helped a man known only as "Ah Bang" to deliver drugs. Shahrukh also sold cannabis on the side to his own clients, at a rate of S$200 for about 50g.
Haikal had previously bought cannabis from Shahrukh's predecessor, but was told to buy it from Shakrukh from January 2019. Haikal first met Shahrukh in Pasir Ris in January 2019, where he bought S$100 worth of cannabis from him.
They met a second time near Haikal's home, and Shahrukh deposited about 350g of cannabis with Haikal for safekeeping as he did not want to carry too much drugs in his car should he get caught.
On Mar 15, 2019, Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers acted on intelligence and arrested Shahrukh at a car park at Block 854A, Jurong West St 81.
Shahrukh had met Haikal that day to collect cannabis-grinding equipment from Haikal, and asked Haikal to safekeep five blocks of cannabis for him.
When Haikal realised CNB officers were onto them, he threw one of the cannabis blocks out of the window.
The officers nabbed Haikal in his flat nearby that same day and seized multiple blocks of vegetable matter from his master bedroom, behind the master bedroom door and from a grass patch below his toilet.
In total, CNB officers found seven blocks, eight packets and loose vegetable matter containing at least 2.4kg of cannabis in Haikal's possession.
Haikal's urine samples were found to contain a cannabinol derivative.
Shahrukh was convicted in the high court of offences including trafficking cannabis to Haikal, and was given 27 years' jail and 24 strokes of the cane. Haikal's case was downgraded from the High Court to the State Courts.
He said he began smoking cannabis in 2018, usually smoking one joint on most weekdays. He said this was to relieve the pain in his back.
HE SMOKED IT NOT FOR ANYTHING SINISTER OR NEFARIOUS: DEFENCE
The prosecution sought 10 years' jail for the main charge, while defence lawyer Amarick Gill said eight years would suffice.
He said his client did not know exactly how many blocks of cannabis were handed over to him by Shahrukh.
"Haikal was forthcoming in admitting that he had a habit of smoking 'marijuana'. He only smoked it to relieve him from the radiating pain he experienced as a commercial diver and not for anything sinister or nefarious," said Mr Gill.
He said his client had a challenging childhood, being involved in gangs and having stints in boys' homes and reformative training centres for fighting, but had turned his life around during national service and became a commercial diver.
He has three children with his wife, and admits his actions have "cost him dearly", said Mr Gill.
"He understands that there were other avenues in which he could have sought to alleviate his pain, but he made foolish and incalculable choices that have landed him in the predicament he is in," he continued.
The judge backdated the jail term to March 2019, after taking into account Haikal's period of remand.
For possessing a Class A controlled drug without authorisation, he could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined a maximum of S$20,000.