Metro family scion jailed two years for drug offences

Ong Jenn had pleaded guilty to one count each of attempting to be in possession of 92.68g of cannabis and 385.1g of a cannabis mixture. He started his sentence yesterday.
Ong Jenn had pleaded guilty to one count each of attempting to be in possession of 92.68g of cannabis and 385.1g of a cannabis mixture. He started his sentence yesterday.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

As an educated man, Metro family scion Ong Jenn cannot claim to be unaware of the risks he ran with his drug habit, District Judge Jasvender Kaur said yesterday.

She made this point before sentencing him to two years in jail for attempting to be in possession of narcotics.

In her sentencing remarks, she said: "The present case is not a one-off incident. It is acknowledged that the accused had a longstanding drug addiction, which he continued to persist in after picking it up while studying overseas.

"Drug addiction has a severe impact not only on the individual, but (also) those closest to them and society as a whole."

Ong, the grandson of Metro founder Ong Tjoe Kim and the son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong, pleaded guilty on May 12 to one count each of attempting to be in possession of 92.68g of cannabis and 385.1g of a cannabis mixture in October 2014.

Ong, who turned 42 on Monday, began his sentence yesterday. He admitted to these offences following a three-day trial in which he was accused of two counts of engaging in a conspiracy with a convicted drug offender to traffic the drug.

Judge Kaur did not find him guilty of these trafficking charges and reduced them to the ones Ong pleaded guilty to.

However, he still has six other pending drug-related charges. They include allegedly being in possession for the purpose of trafficking 75.32g of cannabis and 284.7g of a cannabis mixture in his Bishopsgate home, near Grange Road, on Oct 31, 2014.

The pre-trial conference for the pending cases will be held on July 28.

During the trial on Feb 21, the court heard that three people sent Ong WhatsApp messages just days before his arrest on Oct 31, 2014.

Two of them, known as Tan Pek Leng and Gwen Toh, were specific about the need for drugs.

Ong had admitted he had agreed to sell 100g of cannabis to Ms Toh.

But he denied knowing what another woman, known as Charmaine Harn, meant when she told him in a message: "My guy is out of town and my supply is exhausted. No point getting a load (because I'm) leaving in a week, wondering if (you) have a $150 I could kop off you please."

Yesterday, Judge Kaur accepted that Ong's drugs were for his personal use.

She also noted that he was a "man of means" who did not have to sell drugs to support his addiction.

The judge added: "From the WhatsApp messages exchanged with one Gwen Toh and Charmaine Harn, there was a latent risk of him obliging his friends who ran into difficulty in obtaining their own supply. However, on the uncontradicted evidence of the accused, their requests were eventually not fulfilled.

"I have therefore assessed the degree of latent risk of the drugs ending up in the hands of others to be low."

Accompanied by about 20 of their family members and friends, Ong's wife and sister were seated in the gallery when Judge Kaur handed out the sentence. They dabbed away tears as he was led away in handcuffs and declined to comment when approached.

The prosecution is appealing against the two amended charges that Ong had admitted to.

For each charge of attempting to be in possession of cannabis, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Metro family scion jailed two years for drug offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe