The daughter of the founders of luxury watch retailer The Hour Glass was sentenced to 22 months’ jail and fined $1,000 on Thursday (11 October) after her plea for probation was rejected by the State Courts.
Audrey Tay May Li, 45, had submitted her plea on the grounds of mental illness after earlier pleading guilty to two counts of drug consumption, one count of drug possession and one count of driving without due care or attention.
Five other drug-related charges were taken into consideration for her sentencing. The public relations consultant was also disqualified from driving for 18 months upon her release from prison.
Continued abusing drugs after arrest
On the night of 27 August 2015, Tay visited a Thai Restaurant in Orchard Towers – where she was offered “something to relax” at one of the female toilets by a person named “Jeri”.
“Jeri” laid out two lines of ketamine on a toilet seat cover and Tay, who knew what the substance was, snorted one of the lines.
Tay later left the building to meet a friend. As she was driving along Newton Road in the direction of Moulmein Road at about 1.38am, her car mounted a kerb, collided into three portions of the central divider on the road, and crashed into a traffic light.
The impact caused the traffic light to topple and obstruct the entire three-lane road on the opposite side. The central divider was also uprooted. In total, the accident caused over $3,000 worth of damage to the traffic light and central divider.
Paramedics at the scene noted that Tay’s eyes were dilated and a police officer who interviewed Tay observed that her speech was slurred. She also admitted to having taking ketamine and drinking one glass of wine earlier that night.
Tay was arrested and taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where a medical examination found ketamine in her blood. She was later charged and placed on $30,000 bail, while an appointment for a psychiatric assessment at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) was fixed for her on 10 October last year.
On the day of her appointment, Tay showed up in intoxicated. Her urine tested positive for ketamine and benzodiazepines and Tay was reported to the Central Narcotics Bureau.
She was later arrested and found with drugs and equipment for drug consumption on her.
Tay later admitted she had relapsed into drug abuse about two months prior to the appointment and would consume drugs twice a week.
She confessed to consuming ketamine by herself on 9 October last year in the toilet of a petrol kiosk along Bukit Timah, where her chauffeur had stopped to refuel.
Accused in ‘overwhelming emotional pain’: Lawyer
During her hearing on Thursday (11 October), Tay’s lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam produced medical reports stating Tay had been diagnosed with adjustment disorder with elements of depression and anxiety. She was also found to have a mild substance use disorder.
According to a medical report, Tay – who is divorced with three children – was experiencing overwhelming emotional pain due to her eldest daughter’s rejection of her in the period leading up to the offences.
Her parents’ divorce in 2010 also took a huge emotional toll on Tay, said her lawyer. She also suffered another emotional blow when her 16-year-old daughter was taken away by her ex-husband following a caning incident. According to the defence lawyer, Tay’s ex-husband took out a personal protection order on behalf of his daughter against Tay after the incident.
Thuraisingam also noted that on the day of the Orchard Towers incident, Tay had turned up at her ex-husband’s home to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. However, he denied her access to her daughter and threw away the presents and cake that she had brought.
It was in this state of despair that Tay accepted the offer of drugs later that night, said her lawyer, adding that Tay had also not taken her psychiatric medication then.
Tay’s substance abuse habit appeared to be a form of self-medication to escape from emotional pain, noted one of her medical report, which added that her paid had “acutely exacerbated” her depressed mood and anxiety, affecting her judgement and leading to her acting recklessly when offered the substances.
The defence lawyer asked a probation report to be called, or a jail term of not more than 10 months along with a fine of not more than $500.
No link between mental condition and offences: Judge
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said that probation was not justified, given that there was no causal link between her mental condition and the offences.
Her ability to make choices was not impaired by her condition, noted the judge, who added that Tay had reoffended while on bail and that her drug abuse was not a one-off incident.
The prosecution asked for a total sentence of 26 months, with a fine and a driving disqualification for Tay, stating that the case to be “completely ordinary” despite its background.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Terence Chua said Tay had reoffended despite being given three chances to undergo treatment for drug addiction.
Thuraisingam said Tay, who has been placed on $80,000 bail, would be appealing against her sentence.
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