Cleared of drug use in 2014, but jailed again

A 50-year-old man, who was acquitted and freed in April last yearwhile serving a six-year jail term for drug use, has been sent back to jail for the same offence.

Noor Amran Ismail was jailed for seven years and four months on Oct 20 on one charge of using morphine illegally. The offence attracts caning but he was spared because of his age.His story started in June 2011, when he was caught at a road block for failing to report for a urine test.

His urine sample later tested positive for morphine, and in February 2013 he was sentenced to six years' jail and six strokes of the cane for using the drug without authorisation.

In August 2013, while in prison, he wrote to the Innocence Project in which law students from the National University of Singapore investigate and evaluate claims of wrongful criminal conviction for follow-up with a pro-bono lawyer.

The students found that he had taken prescription medicine containing codeine, which affects urine tests for morphine.

This had not been revealed during his five-day trial. Noor Amran said his lawyer then had instructed him to remain silent when his defence was called.

After fresh evidence was found to substantiate his claim that he had taken the prescription medicine, pro-bono lawyer Mervyn Cheong applied for a re-trial for his client in late 2013, without objection from the prosecution.

The prosecution, after assessing the possibility that the medicine had affected the urine test, asked that he be acquitted.

So in April last year he walked free after having spent about three years in remand and jail. In January this year, however, anti-narcotics officers who raided an apartment he was at found two suspicious packets in his possession. One of them tested positive for heroin, but Noor Amran said he did not take the drug. However, his urine sample tested positive for morphine, and he was charged on Jan 28.

For consuming a controlled drug without authorisation, while having similar previous convictions, Noor Amran could have been jailed for up to 13 years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Cleared of drug use in 2014, but jailed again'. Print Edition | Subscribe