SINGAPORE - A man who hid nearly 4,000 nitrazepam tablets in his car was sentenced to nine months' jail on Tuesday (Jan 31), for importing them without a licence.
Ong Wee Peng, 37, a supervisor, is appealing against the sentence, and bail of $20,000 was offered.
The Nov 5, 2014, offence was not his first. In 2008, he was jailed eight months for importing 15,000 sleeping pills at Woodlands Checkpoint in April the same year.
The court heard that an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer checked Ong's car on Nov 5, 2014, and found the 3,999 Epam tablets, wrapped in two bundles of newspapers, and wedged between the rear seat and boot of the vehicle.
He admitted having imported the tablets - meant to treat anxiety and insomnia - from Malaysia. He paid RM1,800 (S$577) for the tablets from a clinic in Johor Baru after loansharks had informed him that the clinic sold Dormicum (Midazolam) tablets which he could sell to clear his debts.
Ong stated that he had bought 2,000 Epam tablets from the clinic in September 2014, and a further 2,000 tablets on Nov 4 that year.
The doctor had asked for his mobile number and vehicle plate number and told him to wait outside the clinic each time he asked to buy the tablets.
Ong passed RM900 to a man who handed over 2,000 Epam tablets in September 2014. On Nov 5 the same year, a Bangladeshi man had passed him another 2,000 tablets for RM900.
Side effects of nitrazepam may include loss of control of bodily movements, headache, confusion, dizziness, muscular weakness and tiredness.
Health Sciences Authority prosecuting counsel Sangeeta Kumar had highlighted that Ong was a repeat offender, had chosen to re-offend and concealed tablets to avoid detection.
The father of two claimed that the pills were for his own consumption.
Another similar charge of importing 2,000 nitrazepam tablets was considered during his sentencing.
Under the Poisons Act, he could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.