SINGAPORE — More details about an alleged massage service that Ler Teck Siang had provided to a client he is accused of injecting illegal drugs into emerged on Friday (12 July), as the doctor sought to account for incriminating messages between him and his client.
Instead of methamphetamine injections, Ler, 37, claimed that he had been providing sports and prostatic massages to the client to stimulate the latter into erection.
The doctor testified that he had provided the massages as an alternative source of income when it became unclear whether his practising certificate would be renewed as he was facing a court case over a previous offence.
Ler is accused of using his medical skills to provide “slamming services”, which involves administering controlled drugs to customers by injecting the substance into their veins.
Representing himself, Ler is contesting one charge of possessing a syringe intended for the administration of a controlled drug and one charge of abetting a client to consume methamphetamine by administering the drug to him at a hotel room in February last year.
Another drug charge for failing to provide a urine specimen was stood down for the trial.
Used Grindr to advertise massage services
Taking the stand for the first time to testify in his defence, Ler maintained to the court that the services he provided never involved injections.
The former general practitioner, who has been suspended from practice since March, also claimed that the syringe that had been found on him during his arrest on 2 March last year was taken from his partner Mikhy Ferrera Brochez’s study.
Brochez, the man behind the leak of the personal details of 14,200 HIV-positive patients in Singapore, is currently in the United States. The two had married on 21 April 2014 in the US and stayed together at times from 2008 until 2015.
On his alternative income arrangements, Ler said that he decided to draw on his experience from working in an orthopaedic and sports department to provide sports massage therapy services in 2017. He would charge according to the time spent, which would usually be between 20 to 30 minutes.
He used social networking apps, including Grindr, to advertise his services. His Grindr profile picture featured a basketballer performing a slam dunk, alluding to his slamming services.
“I see it used as in ‘I’m slammed’, as in ‘I’m exhausted’… at that point in time I didn’t know the relevant meaning of injecting,” alleged Ler.
Responding to Sim Eng Chee
A client, Sim Eng Chee, had earlier testified that he contacted Ler in August 2017 for the slamming service.
According to Ler, the third time he met Sim on 29 August was the first time he had performed a prostatic massage on Sim at the latter’s request.
“Ten to 15 minutes (into the massage) he asked if I also knew to provide urut-datin, for a specific type of massage also known as manhood massage to most people. When they ask for that, it means specifically happy ending,” said Ler.
He took the opportunity to perform the massage on Sim as a “good chance to practice”.
It was during the massage that Sim allegedly asked Ler if he knew slamming referred to drug injections as well.
“I said I didn’t know that before he told me and I was quite surprised. I was quite mortified and I told him that wasn't the intent of my advertisement and I told him that when I used the word slamming i merely meant invigorating and good massage.”
“I made a joke, if you pretend my finger is a syringe and I plunge it and you get high, you can consider it slamming,” said Ler, who added that the text messages that referred to slamming actually meant massage services.
Incriminating items taken from Brochez’s study: Ler
On 26 February 2018, Ler had performed the same service to Sim again at a room in Swissotel The Stamford, in the presence of two other men.
He maintained he did not inject any drugs into Sim but had suspected Sim’s involvement with drugs.
“I strongly suspected it because of the way he told me what slamming meant and because he is very forward, very open about sexual partners.”
“Although I have not explicitly seen him taking or consuming drugs I suspected, but didn’t directly ask him I did not want to know.”
When Ler met Sim for the last slamming session on 2 March 2018 at Conrad Centennial Hotel, both were caught by the authorities. Ler’s belongings were searched and one syringe, two straws and a bottle were found. All the items were stained with methamphetamine.
Seeking to explain the items, Ler said that he found the syringe in Brochez’s study in August 2017 and had sought to dispose of it at a clinic. He had then left the item in a compartment of his bag and forgotten about it for six months until the authorities found it.
He only remembered that he had recovered it from Brochez’s study and made the connection to his partner’s drug abuse after it tested positive for methamphetamine.
As for the straws, Ler intended to fold them into stars and dog figures to sell.
“I thought if I could fold it into a dog and stuff into the bottle, it’s actually quite a small bottle, then I could market it as a ship in a bottle concept.”
The straws were also taken from Brochez’s study according to Ler. “I did not rinse or wash them (as) I wasn’t going to use it as a straw (to consume beverages).”
The trial continues on Friday, with the prosecution cross examining Ler.