Ler Teck Siang, doctor involved in HIV data leak, jailed for drug offences

Ler Teck Siang, 38, was yesterday sentenced to 15 months in jail on two drug offence charges.
Ler Teck Siang, 38, was yesterday sentenced to 15 months in jail on two drug offence charges.

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

Ler, 38, whose nine-day trial spanned five months, was sentenced to 15 months in 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 Singapore 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 district 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 that he had provided "massage services" to Sim.

District 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 district judge.

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

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

"His commission of the offences at the expense of others is abhorrent," said DPP Wuan.

District Judge Goh added that a sentence of 15 months in jail was fair, and that the prosecution, who included Deputy Public Prosecutor Desmond Chong, had made a concession by not requesting the sentences to run consecutively.

This sentence will run after Ler finishes serving his two-year term for helping HIV-positive Farrera-Brochez cheat the authorities into issuing a work pass.

Ler and Farrera-Brochez are at the centre of a HIV Registry scandal, in which the details of 14,200 HIV-positive patients were leaked online.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story had the wrong name of the District Judge. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Doc in HIV data leak jailed for injecting meth for a fee, having drug utensils'. Print Edition | Subscribe