Man jailed 4 months over plot to steal, sell cough mixture

Cough mixture.
Cough mixture.

Sensing an opportunity after his then-girlfriend told him she needed money, Yap Kailshen hatched a plan to steal at least 684 bottles of cough mixture from the clinic where she worked and sell them on the black market.

The 27-year-old was sentenced to four months’ jail on Thursday (12 October) after pleading guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust and another charge of being in possession of a poison without a license. Another charge under the Poisons Act was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court heard that Yap’s then-girlfriend, Ho Min Pei, had begun working as a part-time receptionist for a clinic in Bishan in November 2013.

Sometime in July 2015, Ho told Yap she needed money, and the latter suggested stealing bottles of Dhasedyl, a cough mixture, from the clinic. He would then look for buyers on the black market, selling each bottle for $35 to $40. For every bottle sold, Yap would give Ho $25 and keep the rest. The pair continued operating in this fashion from July 2015 and January 2016. The total value of the stolen cough mixture came to $6,840.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Randeep Singh Koonar said that the crime was carried out on at least 67 occasions. The pair were caught on 25 January 2016, when Health Sciences Authority officers conducting an operation observed them stealing the cough mixture.

Ho made a profit of at least $16,500. It is unclear how much Yap made, as he did not keep track of his earnings. It is understood that Ho and Yap are no longer in a relationship.

DPP Randeep asked for a sentence of at least five months, saying that Yap’s actions posed a clear threat to the public health and safety. He also argued that Yap’s case was different from other cases involving criminal breach of trust, given that most do not “involve the black market”.

“The accused (Yap) is more culpable than the co-accused (Ho). He came up with the plan, he had the market for buyers… Ho’s role was to simply supply Yap,” DPP Randeep added. “Ho has used the ill-gotten gains to pay back the clinic, which is an indication of remorse. Yap, on the other hand, has been vague about the amount he earned. He also pleaded guilty later.”

However, Yap’s lawyer Choo Yean Lin disagreed. She said that her client had some issues with the statement of facts and was asked to seek legal advice, which led to the late guilty plea.

“My client maintains that he does not have any profits, but because he can’t produce evidence, he is admitting to the Statement of Facts,” said Choo.

Before meting out his sentence, District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said that he agreed with the prosecution that Yap’s culpability is “significantly higher”. “You did everything apart from obtaining the codeine,” DJ Shaiffudin said. “However, I won’t take into account that you did not plead guilty earlier.”

Yap also applied to defer his sentence for two months so that he can complete his current three-month contract as a customer service officer with a local telecommunications company. His sentence will begin on 13 December 2017.

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