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CASES(S) OF THE WEEK

EVIDENCE: Expert evidence - Chemist's analysis of substance - Contradictions between chemist report and oral evidence - Homogenisation of substance - Whether substance to be homogenised before or during analysis - Whether irreconcilable conflict in evidence rendered conviction unsafe

EVIDENCE: Expert evidence - Chemist report - Chemist report contradicted by chemist's own oral testimony - Whether evidence essential to prove subject matter of charge - Whether infirmities and poor quality of chemist's evidence fatal to prosecution's case

CRIMINAL LAW: Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 - Section 39B(1)(a) - Trafficking in 707.5g methamphetamine - Appeal against conviction and sentence - Material contradiction between chemist's oral evidence and chemist report - Whether infirmities and poor quality of chemist's evidence fatal to prosecution's case - Whether there was serious misdirection by trial court warranting appellate interference


NOLOSE ALBERT RALESHOME v. PP
COURT OF APPEAL, PUTRAJAYA
AZAHAR MOHAMED JCA, ROHANA YUSUF JCA, ZAKARIA SAM JCA
[CRIMINAL APPEAL NO: W-05-29-01-2013 (LSO)]
8 JANUARY 2014

The appellant was charged and tried for trafficking in 707.5g of methamphetamine in contravention of s. 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. The learned High Court Judge, at the conclusion of the trial, convicted the appellant on the charge and sentenced him to the mandatory death penalty. Hence, this appeal. The ground of appeal that was raised by the appellant was that the conviction was unsafe since the prosecution had failed to prove one of the essential ingredients of the charge ie, that the substance was methamphetamine weighing 707.5g. The appellant argued that the High Court Judge erred in not concluding the evidence of the chemist (`PW3') was not credible whereby, the substance sent to her for analysis had been homogenised into powder during analysis when, clearly, homogenisation had to be conducted on the substance before analysis. The appellant also submitted that the oral evidence of PW3 was materially contradicted by her own chemist report and the learned High Court Judge had failed to take the material contradictions into account. Hence, the appellant argued that this was a serious non-direction amounting to a misdirection.

Held (allowing appeal; quashing and setting aside conviction and death sentence)

Per Azahar Mohamed JCA delivering the judgment of the court:

(1) One of the essential ingredients of the offence to be proven by the prosecution is that the substance in question was methamphetamine weighing in total 707.5g. In her oral evidence, PW3 stated that she had homogenised the substance before she carried out the analysis of the substance. The importance of homogenising the substances before analysis was also emphasised in the UN Guidelines. However, in her chemist report (`exh. P9'), in which she was bound to state the truth, it was stated that the substance was homogenised during the analysis. Therefore, the oral testimony of PW3 was materially contradicted by her own chemist report. (paras 13, 14, 16 & 17)

(2) Exhibit P9 was a document required by law to be in writing and PW3 must be presumed to have stated the truth in exh. P9. In this regards, the learned High Court Judge had failed to evaluate and scrutinise the evidence of PW3 on the light of the glaring and material contradiction. In view of the unsatisfactory feature, it was difficult to conclude with any degree of certainty that PW3 had homogenised the substance before analysis, as required by the UN Guidelines. (para 17)

(3) It is of utmost importance that when testifying in court as well as writing a report, chemists must be meticulous and precise in the use of words, particularly in a case that attracts the mandatory death penalty. In this case, PW3's evidence was essential to prove that the impugned subject matter was methamphetamine weighing in total 707.5g. The whole of the prosecution's case centred around PW3's evidence which formed the essential element of the charge. On account of the infirmities and poor quality of PW3's evidence, there was doubt about her analysis which in turn was fatal to the prosecution's case. It had the effect of striking at the very essence of the prosecution's case. (para 18)

(4) The learned High Court Judge had seriously misdirected herself on the fact and law resulting in the finding without any factual basis and was not supported by PW3's evidence. The irreconcilable conflict in the evidence of PW3 rendered the conviction unsafe, warranting appellate interference. (paras 19, 20 & 21)

Bahasa Malaysia Translation Of Headnotes

Perayu dituduh dan dibicarakan bagi pengedaran 707.5g methamphetamine yang bertentangan dengan s. 39B(1)(a) Akta Dadah Berbahaya 1952. Yang arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi, di akhir perbicaraan, mensabitkan perayu atas pertuduhan tersebut dan menjatuhkan hukuman mati mandatori terhadapnya. Maka, rayuan ini. Alasan rayuan yang dibangkitkan oleh perayu adalah bahawa sabitannya tidak selamat memandangkan bahawa pihak pendakwaan telah gagal membuktikan salah satu intipati penting pertuduhan tersebut, iaitu, bahawa bahan tersebut adalah methamphetamine yang mempunyai berat sebanyak 707.5g. Perayu menghujahkan bahawa yang arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi telah terkhilaf apabila gagal memutuskan bahawa keterangan ahli kimia (`PW3') tidak boleh dipercayai di mana, bahan yang dihantar kepadanya untuk analisis telah dihomogenkan kepada serbuk semasa analisis apabila, jelas bahawa, bahan tersebut harus dihomogenkan sebelum analisis. Perayu juga menghujahkan bahawa keterangan lisan PW3 dicanggah secara material oleh laporan kimianya sendiri dan yang arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi telah gagal mempertimbangkan percanggahan material tersebut. Dengan itu, perayu menghujahkan bahawa ini merupakan ketidakarahan serius yang menjurus kepada salah arahan.

Diputuskan (membenarkan rayuan; membatalkan dan mengenepikan sabitan dan hukuman mati)

Oleh Azahar Mohamed HMR menyampaikan penghakiman mahkamah:

(1) Salah satu daripada unsur penting kesalahan yang perlu dibuktikan oleh pihak pendakwaan adalah bahawa bahan yang dipersoalkan adalah methamphetamine yang mempunyai berat sejumlah 707.5g. Dalam keterangan lisannya, PW3 menyatakan bahawa dia telah menghomogenkan bahan tersebut sebelum menjalankan analisis bahan tersebut. Kepentingan homogen bahan sebelum analisis adalah juga ditekankan dalam Garis Panduan UN. Walau bagaimanapun, dalam laporan kimianya (`eks. P9'), di mana dia terikat untuk menyatakan yang benar, adalah dinyatakan bahawa bahan tersebut telah dihomogenkan semasa analisis. Oleh demikian, keterangan lisan PW3 bercanggah secara material dengan laporan kimianya sendiri.

(2) Ekshibit P9 adalah dokumen bertulis seperti dikehendaki oleh undang-undang dan PW3 mesti dianggap sebagai telah menyatakan perkara yang benar dalam eks. P9. Dalam hal ini, yang arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi telah gagal menilai dan meneliti keterangan PW3 berkaitan dengan percanggahan yang jelas dan material tersebut. Berdasarkan ciri yang tidak memuaskan ini, adalah sukar untuk memutuskan secara muktamad bahawa PW3 telah menghomogenkan bahan tersebut sebelum analisis, seperti yang diperlukan oleh Garis Panduan UN.

(3) Adalah penting apabila memberikan keterangan di mahkamah dan juga menulis laporan, ahli kimia perlu teliti dan tepat dalam penggunaan perkataan, khususnya dalam kes yang membawa hukuman mati mandatori. Dalam kes ini, keterangan PW3 adalah penting untuk membuktikan bahawa subjek perkara yang dipersoalkan adalah methamphetamine yang beratnya adalah 707.5g. Keseluruhan kes pihak pendakwaan berkisar tentang keterangan PW3 yang membentuk unsur penting pertuduhan. Berdasarkan kelemahan dan kualiti rendah pada keterangan PW3, wujud keraguan mengenai analisisnya yang menjejaskan kes pihak pendakwaan. Ia mempunyai kesan menjejaskan akar umbi kes pihak pendakwaan.

(4) Yang Arif Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi telah secara serius tersalah arah dari segi fakta dan undang-undang yang menjurus kepada penemuan tanpa apa-apa asas fakta dan tidak disokong oleh keterangan PW3. Konflik dalam keterangan PW3 yang tidak boleh diselaraskan mengakibatkan sabitan tidak selamat, yang mewajarkan campur tangan rayuan.

Case(s) referred to:

Lim Pah Soon v. PP [2013] 8 CLJ 800 CA (refd)

PP v. Ang Soon Huat [1990] 1 LNS 103 HC (refd)

PP v. Mok Kar Poh [2001] 5 CLJ 206 HC (refd)

PP v. Ong Cheng Heong [1998] 4 CLJ 209 HC (refd)

PP v. Sulaiman Mohamad Noor [1995] 1 LNS 325 HC (refd)

Legislation referred to:

Criminal Procedure Code, ss. 180(1), (4), 399(3)

Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, ss. 39B(1)(a), 39B(2)

Counsel:

For the appellant - Karpal Singh (Zaleha Al-Hayat with him); M/s Karpal Singh & Co

For the respondent - Munahyza Mustafa; DPP

[Appeal from High Court, Kuala Lumpur; Criminal Trial No: 45-21-2011]

Reported by S Barathi




COMPANY LAW: Winding up - Notice of demand - Issuance of - Companies Act 1965, s. 218(2)(a) - Judgment creditor did not enforce judgment against judgment debtor - Notice issued after six years from date of judgment - Failure to obtain leave of court - Whether notice valid - Whether winding up proceeding fell within ambit and meaning of "execution" as provided under O. 46 r. 2 Rules of Court 2012 - Whether leave of court necessary - Whether issuance of notice fell within limitation period of 12 years - Limitation Act 1953, s. 6(3)

WORDS & PHRASES: "execution proceedings" - Meaning of - Whether winding up proceeding fell within ambit and meaning of "execution" as provided under O. 46 r. 2 Rules of Court 2012


PACIFIC PLUMBING CONSTRUCTION (M) SDN BHD v. AMBANK (M) BHD
HIGH COURT MALAYA, SHAH ALAM
ROZANA ALI YUSOFF JC
[CIVIL SUIT NO: 22NCVC-377-05-2013]
6 JANUARY 2014

The defendant had granted a loan facility to the plaintiff in the sum of RM446,946 which was guaranteed by the director and shareholder (`LWK') of the plaintiff. On 10 March 2006, the defendant filed an action against the plaintiff and LWK and judgments were obtained on 2 May 2006 and 8 May 2006, against LWK and the plaintiff, respectively. Subsequently, the receiving and adjudication order was obtained against LWK. However, the defendant, as the judgment creditor, did not enforce the judgment sum against the plaintiff. It was only on 25 April 2013 that the defendant issued a notice of demand under s. 218(2)(a) of the Companies Act 1965 (`the said notice') for the outstanding amount of RM1,523,486.31 due and owing. The plaintiff submitted, inter alia, that (i) the said notice was issued after the expiration of the defendant's right of enforcement and therefore, the right of enforcement no longer existed at the time the notice of demand was issued; and (ii) the defendant's notice was invalid as leave under O. 46 of the Rules of Court 2012 (`ROC') was necessary for the issuance of the said notice which was made after six years from the date of judgment. The defendant argued that the leave of court was not required prior to the issuance of the said notice since the proceedings were not a form of enforcement within the meaning of O. 46 of the ROC. In the present claim, the primary issue at hand was whether the said notice was valid in law.

Held (dismissing plaintiff's claim with costs):

(1) Winding up proceeding could not be equated with enforcement of judgment proceedings and was not within the ambit and meaning of `execution' proceedings as provided by O. 46 r. 2 of the ROC and thus, leave of court was not necessary in the present case. Further, in Island Hill Sdn Bhd v. Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd, it was held that s. 6(3) of the Limitation Act 1953 applied to winding up proceedings and these proceedings should be instituted within 12 years from the date of judgment. In the present case, the defendant had issued the said notice six years, 11 months and 17 days from the date of the judgment which was well within the limitation period of 12 years. As such, the said notice was valid in law (Perwira Affin Bank Bhd v. Lim Ah Hee; foll). (paras 16 & 19)

Case(s) referred to:

AmBank (M) Bhd v. Tan Tem Son & Another Appeal [2013] 3 CLJ 317 FC (refd)

CIMB Bank Berhad v. Hosba Valley Resort Sdn Bhd [2012] 1 LNS 627 HC (refd)

Island Hill Sdn Bhd v. Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Bhd [2012] 5 MLJ 506 (foll)

Juara Aspirasi (M) Sdn Bhd v. Tan Soon Ping [2012] 1 MLJ 50 (refd)

Perwira Affin Bank Bhd v. Lim Ah Hee [2004] 2 CLJ 787 FC (foll)

Legislation referred to:

Companies Act 1965, s. 218(2)(a)

Limitation Act 1953, ss. 2, 6(3)

Rules of Court 2012, O. 14A, O. 46 r. 2

Rules of the High Court 1980, O. 46 r. 2

Counsel:

For the plaintiff - Amarjeet; M/s Zubeda & Amarjeet

For the defendant - Andrew Teh (Foong Mun Yee with him); M/s Wong Lu Peen & Tunku Alina

Reported by Najib Tamby

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