Singaporean man arrested at Perth Airport for drug-related offences

The man had arrived in Perth on Nov 16 from Singapore and was taken aside for luggage inspection. PHOTO: AUSTRALIAN BORDER FORCE AND AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE

SINGAPORE – A Singaporean man was arrested in Australia after illicit drugs were found in his possession at Perth Airport on Nov 16.

In a joint statement on Nov 25, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Federal Police said 100ml of gamma-butyrolactone or GBL and a variety of prohibited anabolic steroids were found when the Singaporean’s luggage was searched.

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said last Friday that it was aware a Singaporean man had been arrested for suspected drug-related offences.

According to the Australian authorities, the Singaporean had declared he was not carrying any prohibited goods when filling up his passenger declaration card.

The man had arrived in Perth on Nov 16 after taking a flight from Singapore and was taken aside by an ABF officer for luggage inspection.

The Australian authorities did not say how they detected anomalies in the man’s behaviour or in the items he was carrying.

After the man was arrested, he appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Nov 17 and pleaded guilty to three charges.

These included two counts of importing border controlled drugs and one count of importing prohibited items.

He was fined A$3,000 (S$2,800) and cannot re-enter Australia for three years. 

Further details on the man and his purpose of visit to Australia were not provided by the Singapore or Australian authorities. 

Lawyers said the man can be prosecuted in Singapore, depending on what offences he may be convicted of.

Under Section 8A of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Singapore citizens and permanent residents can be prosecuted if they are caught consuming drugs overseas.

They will be dealt with as if the offence had been committed within Singapore if a urine test confirms they had consumed the drug. 

The Straits Times earlier reported that 41 Singaporeans and permanent residents were arrested for suspected drug abuse overseas at various checkpoints here from January to August 2022.

On the Perth incident, Ms Gloria James-Civetta, head lawyer at Gloria James-Civetta and Co, said that whether the Singaporean man can be proven to have consumed the drugs would also depend on whether the drugs remain in his system. 

“Some drugs can remain in your system for four to six weeks. Singaporeans should know that even in countries which have relaxed drug consumption, if you consume drugs overseas, you risk being charged when you return to Singapore,” she said. 

On whether the man can be convicted of exporting controlled drugs from Singapore, Mr Cory Wong, a criminal lawyer from Invictus Law Corporation, said this will depend on whether the authorities can prove he had the drugs when leaving here.

Mr Wong said: “It is unclear if the man had left Singapore with the drugs, or if the drugs only came into his possession at the arrival or transit hall at Perth Airport.” 

CNB said investigations are ongoing.

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