Prosecution says doctor in drug trial told absurd lies to cover up damning messages

Ler Teck Siang is accused of injecting illicit drugs into drug abusers for a fee, a practice known as "slamming".
Ler Teck Siang is accused of injecting illicit drugs into drug abusers for a fee, a practice known as "slamming".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Confronted with text message records which showed his frequent usage and understanding of drug lingo, Singaporean doctor Ler Teck Siang "concocted absurd lies" to distance himself from the damning messages, the prosecution told a district court on Friday (Sept 6).

Ler, 38, is accused of injecting illicit drugs into drug abusers for a fee, a practice known as "slamming".

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Wuan said Ler's text message records with convicted drug abuser Sim Eng Chee showed he not only knew the lingo, but he had carried out the procedure as well.

Yet Ler avoided the truth about the text messages, said DPP Wuan, claiming he only provided massage services.

He also insisted that all references to "slamming" or the use of utensils in his messages were part of a running inside joke between him and Sim.

DPP Wuan said Ler's defence is "incoherent and defies logic", adding that the doctor, who has been suspended, also "prevaricated" on why he had methamphetamine-stained drug utensils with him when he was arrested on March 2 last year with Sim.

Ler is facing a charge of possessing drug-related utensils on that day, on top of a charge of injecting methamphetamine into Sim a few days earlier on Feb 26.

After his arrest, he told Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers that a methamphetamine-stained syringe found on him was used to "clean his teeth", but later testified that the same syringe belonged to his partner, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, and he had intended to throw it away.

"The accused's constant prevarications are testament to his lack of credibility and can be contrasted with Sim's testimony, which is clear and corroborated by the text message records," said DPP Wuan, in the prosecution's closing submissions for the case.

 
 
 

In response, Ler, who is representing himself, said the prosecution's case rested solely on Sim, who had testified earlier in the trial to hiring Ler for "slamming" services.

"Sim's evidence is not substantiated by any independent physical evidence," he said, pointing out that the only evidence to substantiate Sim's words were the text messages, which also came from Sim.

"We can't say that he's substantiating himself," said Ler, who is currently serving a sentence for drug consumption and possession.

He added that Sim had "changed his tune", as the witness initially told CNB officers that Ler had "nothing to do" with the drugs found on him.

Ler said Sim had made the "180-degrees flip-flop" to accuse him, so Sim could use it as a mitigating factor in his own case.

Sim had denied this claim earlier during the trial.

On Friday, DPP Wuan pointed out that the text message records only made sense when read in conjunction with Sim's testimony.

Ler had not once tried to account for the numerous text accounts between him and Sim, and the reason is telling, he said.

"He is urging this court to place no weight on text messages. It is clear why his case is as such, because he knows the text messages are damning," said DPP Wuan.

The case has been adjourned to next month.

Ler and Farrera-Brochez are at the centre of the HIV registry scandal, where the details of 14,200 HIV positive patients were leaked online.

Farrera-Brochez was convicted in the United States on charges relating to the leaked identification documents in Singapore.