A 23-year-old Singaporean man, Kwan Jun Yan, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment and eight strokes of the cane for his involvement in trafficking cannabis. The verdict was delivered on Friday after Kwan pleaded guilty to one count of cannabis trafficking and consuming a cannabinol derivative.
According to Channel News Asia (CNA), a third charge was taken into consideration, while a fourth charge was withdrawn during the trial.
Friend Introduced To Drugs
The court heard that Kwan, an 18-year-old polytechnic student at the time of the offenses, was introduced to cannabis, commonly known as “w**d,” in April 2017 by a friend. Initially, he and his friend shared 10 grams of cannabis worth S$120, which would last them about two weeks. Kwan, then, admitted to smoking weed to appear “cool” and impress those around him.
After his friend’s arrest later that year, Kwan temporarily stopped using the drug. However, he returned to it in June 2018, seeking quick cash. At this time, he approached a cannabis supplier, who offered him 30 percent of the profits in exchange for assisting in the collection and distribution of cannabis to clients.
The prosecution stated that Kwan agreed to the arrangement as he needed cash to fund his “extravagant expenses,” which included cigarettes, football match betting, and liquor. Communication between Kwan and the unnamed supplier was facilitated through phone calls and WhatsApp messages, with Kwan using a prepaid SIM card provided by the supplier.
However, Kwan’s illicit activities came to an abrupt end on July 11, 2018. On that day, while collecting two blocks of cannabis from an unknown individual at a bus stop along Gul Crescent, Kwan was apprehended by officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). During the arrest, the officers discovered 480.79 grams of cannabis in Kwan’s possession, along with a digital weighing scale, a penknife for cutting drugs, and multiple resealable bags.
A subsequent search of his residence in Kim Tian Road resulted in the discovery of more drug exhibits and paraphernalia, as well as traces of a cannabinol derivative in Kwan’s urine samples, according to CNA.
The prosecution sought a 13-year jail term and 10 strokes of the cane for Kwan, despite his lack of prior convictions, based on the quantity of drugs trafficked – 329.99g of cannabis.
The prosecutor pointed out that the indicative starting sentence for such an amount is typically 15 years.
In defense of his client, lawyer Wee Hong Shern asked for two fewer strokes of the cane but agreed on the jail term. He emphasized the disparity of Kwan’s circumstances, stating, “we are presented with polar extremes – where on the one hand, the client was at a tender age of 18, but he had committed a very serious offence.” Wee further highlighted Kwan’s age, as he is still 23 years old, and argued that rehabilitation should be prioritized over deterrence.
The defense lawyer also shed light on Kwan’s struggles, stating that he suffered from adjustment disorder and depressive symptoms. Wee submitted a written mitigation plea, explaining how Kwan’s association with the wrong company during his polytechnic days led to his introduction and eventual addiction to cannabis.
During the sentencing, Principal District Judge Jill Tan acknowledged the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Kwan’s involvement in drug trafficking. She recognized that he had already spent five years in remand, urging him to reflect on his actions and consider a positive path upon his release. The judge noted that the correct starting point for sentencing would have been 15 years and 11 strokes of the cane before considering any aggravating and mitigating factors.
Judge Tan considered the aggravating factors, such as Kwan’s active assistance in drug trafficking, his 30 percent share of the profits, and his use of the money for betting and substance abuse. However, she emphasized the significant weight of Kwan’s youth in mitigating his sentence despite these factors, ultimately aligning with the sentence the defense had sought.
For trafficking a Class A controlled drug like cannabis, Kwan could have faced a prison term ranging from five to 20 years and five to 15 strokes of the cane. In the end, the court balanced the seriousness of the offense with the potential for Kwan’s rehabilitation.
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