Witness knew of 'slamming services' provided by doctor involved in HIV data leak at drug and sex party

·Senior Reporter
PHOTO of Ler Teck Siang: Yahoo News Singapore
PHOTO of Ler Teck Siang: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — A man who was allegedly administered drugs through intravenous injections from a doctor embroiled in the HIV data leak scandal testified that he knew about the accused at a drug and sex party.

Prosecution witness Sim Eng Chee, 44, said he first found out through a sex partner about Ler Teck Siang’s “slamming services” during a slamming session.

A slamming service involves a person administering controlled drugs to customers via intravenous injections. A slamming session usually involves one or more individuals taking drugs before they engage in sex.

Ler, a doctor who is currently suspended from practising medicine, is accused of using his medical skills to provide slamming services.

The 37-year-old, who is representing himself, is contesting one charge of possessing a syringe intended for the administration of a controlled drug and one charge of abetting a customer 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.

Taking the stand, Sim, who is currently on a home detention scheme for possession and consumption of methamphetamine, testified to exchanging text messages with Ler, whom he knew as Todd, or the alias “Altitude”.

Sim, currently a management trainee in a food and beverage outlet, alleged that he heard about Ler’s services from a sex partner at the end of 2017.

Then a tutor and consultant, Sim was already a regular drug abuser. He said he decided to seek a third party to inject the drugs directly into his bloodstream due to the convenience.

“When I do it myself, I only have one of two hands to perform injection. If a third party does it, he will have use of both hands... It is also less stress for myself.”

Sim said he knew about Ler’s profile on Grindr and connected with him on the gay dating app, and asked about his slamming services.

Ler appeared “professional”

Over the next seven to eight months, Sim would engage Ler for his slamming services. Ler would charge $40 for the service, and any fees incurred for one-way transport.

Asked by the prosecution about Ler’s profession, Sim said he was aware that Ler was in the medical profession after observing that he was “professional” in administering the injections.

“So I kind of had the confidence that he knew what he was doing,” added Sim.

Sim also visited Ler in his clinic in Tampines in December 2017 to seek medical services for a cough and a wound on his left elbow.

During one slamming session, when Ler had trouble inserting a needle into Sim’s veins, the doctor offered a 50 per cent discount for his next visit.

The two did not engage in sexual activity, according to Sim.

On 1 March last year, Sim booked a room at the Conrad Centennial Hotel, initially intending to stay just one night. However, he decided to extend his stay to 2 March.

He proceeded to Geylang to purchase drugs while contacting sex partners and Ler for his slamming service.

When Sim returned to the hotel, he met Ler at the lobby and the two went to the hotel room. However, Sim was unable to gain access to the room with his key card.

By then, hotel staff had found about Sim’s drug paraphernalia which he had kept in the safety deposit box in his room during a routine check.

When Sim returned to the reception with Ler, he saw the hotel staff at the lift and felt something was amiss. He told Ler to stay away as he proceeded to the reception counter for assistance.

Both Sim and Ler were subsequently arrested by the police. Officers from Central Narcotics Bureau arrived and took over the case.

“I was feeling doomed because I just bought a large amount of drugs and I was carrying drugs with me....I knew that I had to face consequences for my actions,” said Sim.

In an earlier tranche of the trial, hotel staff testified that Ler told them that he had been using a syringe, which was found among his belongings, for himself.

Two packets of substances found in the hotel room’s safety deposit box were later found to contain methamphetamine while a third packet had ketamine.

Background of OSA case

Ler, formerly the head of the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s National Public Health Unit, has a pending charge under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information in relation to his partner Mikhy Farrera Brochez’s leaking of personal data belonging to 14,200 HIV-positive patients.

In January, the MOH revealed that Brochez – whom Ler married in New York in 2014 – had released the personal details of the HIV-positive patients online. The leaked data included the affected individuals’ names, identification numbers, contact details, HIV test results, and related medical information.

In November last year, Ler was sentenced to two years’ jail for abetting Brochez in hiding the latter’s HIV status from the Ministry of Manpower so as to help him get a job in Singapore. Ler is currently serving the sentence, which began on 21 March this year.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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