PUTRAJAYA: Two men breathed a sigh of relief after the Court of Appeal on Monday (June 20) set aside their sentences of 23 years in jail and 20 lashes for the possession of methamphetamine weighing 51.7kg, seven years ago.
A three-judge panel led by Hanipah Farikullah ordered Lee Yuan Cheong, 32, a former restaurant worker and Poen Thiam Leong, 49, a fruit seller to be discharged and acquitted after finding the convictions and sentences handed down by the High Court were unsafe.
“This is a unanimous decision. After reading the record of the appeal, the court found that the High Court judge had erred whereby the convictions and sentences handed down against them were unsafe.
“Therefore, the convictions and sentences are set aside. Both of you (appellants) are discharged and acquitted,” said Hanipah, who sat with Ahmad Nasfy Yasin and Mariana Yahya.
Initially, the two men along with Chong Yew Chai, 54, were charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine weighing 93.04 grams (0.093 kg) and 51,589 grams (51.6 kg) respectively at Jalan Tasik Dedap 1, Pantai Sepang Putra, Sungai Pelek, Sepang here at 5pm, Aug 31, 2015.
Both charges were filed under Section 39B (1) (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which is punishable under Section 39B (2) of the same Act and read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code which carries the death penalty.
However, in the final stage of the defence case, the Shah Alam High Court amended the charge of trafficking to drug possession under Section 39A (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries a life sentence or not less than five years imprisonment and a maximum of 10 lashes.
On April 26, 2019, the Shah Alam High Court meted out a sentence of 12 years imprisonment and 10 lashes for the first charge, and 23 years imprisonment and 10 lashes for the second charge.
The court also ordered the jail sentences to run concurrently from the date of arrest on Aug 31, 2015, which meant they would serve 23 years in prison with 20 lashes.
Chong did not appeal the conviction and sentence.
The case was handled by Deputy Public Prosecutor Eyu Ghim Siang while lawyers Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and Low Wei Loke represented the two appellants. – Bernama