Daughter of Hour Glass founders jailed for drug abuse

Former public relations consultant Audrey Tay May Li pleaded guilty to three drug-related charges, and another charge of driving without care and caution. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The daughter of the couple who founded luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass was jailed for 22 months on Thursday (Oct 11) for repeatedly abusing drugs over two years.

Former public relations consultant Audrey Tay May Li, 45, was also disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined $1,000 for driving without due care and attention.

She pleaded guilty to three drug charges and the driving charge on Aug 27.

Another five drug-related charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

She was arrested in August 2015 after knocking over a traffic light pole while driving under the influence of the drug ketamine.

While out on bail, Tay re-offended again in October 2017 when she turned up intoxicated for a psychiatric assessment at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

Defence counsel Eugene Thuraisingam argued for Tay to be given probation in lieu of an imprisonment term of two years and two months, as sought by public prosecutors.

Mr Thuraisingam said Tay's substance abuse was a form of "self medication to escape from the stresses of her life", adding that the eldest daughter of Ms Jannie Chan, 72, and Dr Henry Tay, 73 , suffered when they divorced in 2010.

Ms Jannie Chan, mother of Audrey Tay, arriving at the State Courts on Oct 11, 2018. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Tay herself is a divorcee with three children, but she had her elder daughter taken away from her in 2014 by her former husband, according to court papers.

She suffered from "overwhelming pain and despair from her elder daughter rejecting her", said Mr Thuraisingam. As a result, she developed psychiatric issues and was later found to be suffering from adjustment disorder with depressed mood and anxiety, and substance abuse disorder.

These circumstances "exacerbated her mood... and led her to recklessly take the substance," said Mr Thuraisingam.

However, Deputy Public Prosecutor Terence Chua said Tay's case was not exceptional enough to warrant a probation.

He argued that deterrence is usually the dominant consideration for drug offences and a custodial term is usually warranted, except in exceptional cases.

"Despite the accused's background, the case is completely ordinary, in terms of the type of conviction, the reasons for consumption, and the accidents that occurred," said Mr Chua.

In sentencing, District Judge Shaifuddin Saruwan said: "Her ability to make conscious choices is not impaired."

Tay is currently out on bail of $80,000, as she will be appealing against the sentence.

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