A HEROIN trafficker who has been on death row for more than four years yesterday failed in his bid to escape the gallows, after the High Court found that he did not meet the criteria to be re-sentenced to life imprisonment.
Since Jan 1, 2013, 11 drug offenders have had their death sentences commuted thus.
Kester Ng Wei Ren, 54, is the first to have his application for re-sentencing dismissed, when he failed to convince the court he was a mere courier.
Ng was convicted in 2010 of trafficking in 23.38g of heroin and given the then mandatory death penalty. His appeal was dismissed later that year.
In 2011, hangings were put on hold while the Government reviewed the death penalty regime. On Jan 1, 2013, new laws came into effect giving judges the discretion to sentence drug offenders to life imprisonment instead of a mandatory death penalty.
The lighter sentence, however, applies only to those who are couriers transporting or delivering drugs. They must also be certifed by the prosecution to have substantively assisted the authorities or found to be suffering from a mental abnormality.
Yesterday, Ng's lawyer Manoj Nandwani sought to show that he was a courier and the drugs were for his own consumption only.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun argued that someone who meant to sell drugs cannot be considered to be a mere courier.
Ng was arrested by anti-narcotics officers on Aug 12, 2008, and found to have packets of heroin and methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, on him. A search of a Geylang apartment, one of his three residential addresses, uncovered more drugs - Ice, Nimetazepam tablets and heroin - two weighing scales and more than $6,000 in cash.
Ng faced seven charges but the prosecution proceeded on only one charge of trafficking in 23.38g of heroin. Anyone convicted of trafficking in more than 15g of the drug faces the death penalty.
He claimed he had intended to traffick only in 9.92g and the rest was for his own consumption.