Singapore

Doctor in HIV data leak jailed for drug offences

He gets 15 months' jail for injecting drug abusers for money and possessing drug utensils

Ler Teck Siang, the Singaporean doctor involved in the HIV Registry data leak, was found guilty yesterday of injecting drug abusers for a fee, and possessing drug utensils.

Ler, 38, whose nine-day trial spanned five months, was sentenced to 15 months' jail on two charges: possession of a drug-stained syringe and a charge of injecting methamphetamine into a Sim Eng Chee last year.

Ler was arrested with Sim, a convicted drug abuser, at Conrad Centennial hotel on March 2 last year, after hotel staff found drugs in Sim's hotel room and called the police.

During Ler's sentencing yesterday, District Judge Christopher Goh said this was "a tale of drug consumption and sex that unravelled" for Ler as the other "protagonist", Sim, did not realise he was assigned to a new hotel room.

Hotel staff thus found drugs while Sim was out procuring more drugs, the judge said.

Sim earlier testified in court that he had hired Ler for "slamming" services - slang for the administration of illegal drugs via injection - ahead of group sex sessions with other men.

But Ler countered he had provided "massage services" to Sim.

MORE BELIEVABLE

Judge Goh said he found Sim's testimony more believable than Ler's, as his evidence was consistent with the text messages between the two, and he came across as one who has seen the error of his ways.

Sim answered the questions clearly and to the point, even when what he said might have caused him embarrassment, added the judge.

But Ler's claim of providing massage services was not raised in his statements to the Central Narcotics Bureau, said the judge.

"I found his attempts to explain drug references in the text messages difficult to accept," he said.

For example, Ler had claimed that the "coke" mentioned in their text messages referred to the soft drink Coca-Cola, while the "poke" was in reference to the Facebook "poke" function.

"I was, in fact, incredulous at some of these explanations," said Judge Goh.

He also rejected Ler's explanations for the drug-stained syringe found on him.

Ler first claimed that the syringe was used to flush food particles out of his teeth, then later said it was from his former partner Mikhy Farrera-Brochez's study.

"I agree with the prosecution that this explanation was an afterthought," said Judge Goh.

In calling for a sentence of 15 months', Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Wuan said Ler had committed the offences for greed and had done "precisely what a doctor ought not to do".

COURT & CRIME