Singapore

Ex-clinic worker jailed 3 months for stealing cough syrup

A student working as a part-time receptionist in a Bishan clinic needed money and hatched a plan with her boyfriend to steal and sell cough mixture containing codeine.

Ho Min Pei, 23, misappropriated 684 bottles of Dhasedyl cough mixture worth $6,840 from T P Sim Family Clinic and Surgery between July 2015 and January last year.

She was sentenced to three months' jail yesterday.

She had also admitted to selling 24 bottles containing codeine to the co-accused, Yap Kailshen, 26, who may face trial. Both were in a romantic relationship at the time of the offences, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Randeep Singh Koonar.

Ho worked at the clinic from November 2013 to January last year, when her services were terminated as a result of the offences.

Sometime in July 2015, Ho agreed to Yap's suggestion that she take and sell codeine-laced cough mixture from the clinic as she needed the money. The arrangement between them was for Ho to misappropriate the bottles and hand them to Yap, who would then look for buyers.

The pair agreed that Ho would receive $25 from each sale and Yap would keep the rest of the proceeds. According to Yap, the "market value" of each illicit bottle was $35 to $40.

Between July 2015 and January last year, Ho misappropriated at least 684 bottles of cough mixture on at least 67 occasions. Her profit was at least $16,500.

On the day of their arrest on Jan 25 last year, Ho had on her 24 bottles of cough mixture. She left the clinic at Block 509, Bishan Street 11 at about 9.20pm and handed the stolen bottles to Yap. But Health Sciences Authority officers, who were conducting an operation near the clinic, moved in and detained them.

The side effects of codeine, an opiate, include drowsiness, stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, blurred vision and tinnitus. Prolonged use may cause tolerance and dependence and has been associated with drug abuse.

Yesterday, Yap, who was unrepresented, had his guilty plea rejected by District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt as he had disputed the facts in the charge. The judge fixed a pre-trial conference on July 28.

Ho, represented by Mr T.M. Sinnadurai, was allowed to start her sentence on July 19 so she has time to arrange to defer a school examination.

She could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for criminal breach of trust as a servant. For selling codeine without a licence, she could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.

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