Convicted trafficker hopes drug sellers will think about impact on families

Mary (not her real name) accepts that having the death penalty has stopped others from selling and taking drugs. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - When Mary (not her real name) was left to raise her teenage son on her own after her husband was jailed for drug consumption, she felt immense stress and returned to heroin.

To fund her addiction and her son's polytechnic expenses, she peddled small amounts of the drug for her dealer.

But the quantities and types of drugs grew as the cash flowed in and her boss fled to Malaysia, leaving her to handle the illicit business on her own.

In November 2014, Mary, now 49, was arrested.

She said she did not know drug trafficking was a capital offence until Central Narcotics Bureau officers told her.

"(When I found out,) I was terrified. I thought about my son and I was filled with regret... I regretted everything. I was only thinking about the fast cash and didn't think about being a good mum," said Mary in tears over a video call from where she is serving a 26-year jail term.

When asked if she was happy there is a death penalty for drug trafficking in Singapore, she paused before responding "not happy", but added: "It's difficult to accept (the harsh penalties) because of my current situation."

She accepts that having the death penalty has stopped others from selling and taking drugs, and said: "If I had known there was a death penalty, I never would have sold drugs.

"I know there are kids who suffer the most when their parents take drugs, family members cut ties and families are broken. I hope people who are trafficking will think properly about how it will affect their families," said Mary.

She counts herself as very lucky to have avoided the gallows - the heroin, or diamorphine, she had in her possession crossed the 15g threshold for the death penalty, but its purity was found to be under the mark.

"When I was trafficking, I didn't care about the consequences, I only cared about the money which was coming in fast," she said.

Prior to her current incarceration, Mary had been convicted of consuming heroin in 2003 and 2011.

Her husband had been selling heroin and she was curious, so she tried some of his stash in 2001 and got hooked.

"I didn't think the addiction would be so strong. The more I had, the more I wanted," Mary recalled, and every attempt to quit was futile.

But she believes this will be her last incarceration because of her family support. Her husband now works as a volunteer counsellor at a halfway home while her son has graduated from university and secured a job as a physiotherapist.

She said: "I really believe I can stay drug-free this time. I have better family support and I want to change to be a better person for my family."

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