When his girlfriend said she needed money, Yap Kailshen suggested she steal cough mixture from the clinic she was working at, and sell it.
Ms Ho Min Pei, a student, was then working as a part-time receptionist at T P Sim Family Clinic and Surgery in Bishan Street 11.
She agreed and the pair decided that Yap, 27, would look for buyers.
Yesterday, Yap was given four months' jail for instigating Ms Ho, 23, to commit criminal breach of trust involving 684 bottles of Dhasedyl cough mixture. She had taken the medicine worth $6,840 from the clinic between July 2015 and January last year. Yap also admitted to having 24 bottles of a brown liquid containing codeine for sale without a licence on Jan 25 last year.
The pair had agreed Ms Ho would receive $25 from each sale and Yap would keep the rest of the sales proceeds. Yap had estimated the "market value" for each bottle of cough mixture on the black market at $35 to $40, but failed to properly account for how much he sold each bottle for, the court heard.
After she was found out, Ms Ho's services were terminated in January last year and she was sentenced to three months' jail. She has since completed her sentence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Randeep Singh Koonar said that at least 600 bottles of cough mixture were sold for a minimum of $25 each. Ms Ho thus made at least $16,500 based on the profit-sharing agreement, the court heard. Yap's profit from their scheme is unknown.
The pair were arrested on Jan 25 last year after Ms Ho misappropriated 24 bottles of cough mixture from the clinic before passing them to Yap. The side effects of codeine, an opiate, include drowsiness, stomach upset, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, blurred vision and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Prolonged use may cause tolerance and dependence, and has been associated with drug abuse.
Yap's lawyer, Ms Choo Yean Lin, said in mitigation that her client regrets his actions, and that he committed the offences out of love and infatuation for Ms Ho, and merely wanted to lighten her financial burden. The lawyer added that Yap secured a three-month work contract as a customer service officer last month.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan granted the application for Yap to defer his sentence until Dec 13.
Yap could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined for abetting in criminal breach of trust. Under the Poisons Act, he could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.