An undergraduate who donated blood was jailed for 15 weeks and fined $10,000 yesterday for lying in a health assessment questionnaire that he filled out beforehand.
The 23-year-old, who cannot be named because of a gag order, pleaded guilty to donating blood at the Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut in Orchard Road on Dec 19, 2012 and falsely declaring that he had not had sex with another man.
The defendant had been having a sexual relationship with a male partner since 2010 and also had sex with a male stranger sometime in December 2011.
The blood he donated was found to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, commonly known as HIV.
District Judge Lim Keng Yeow said this was an offence from which the offender "had so little to gain, but through which innocent people might have so much to lose".
"Innocent persons who have to depend on donated blood should never be put in danger by what is administered to them," he said.
"They and their families should never even be put in fear that the blood they receive could cause them grave harm rather than do them good."
Defence counsel Christine Sekhon had asked for a short detention order (SDO) to be imposed on the young offender to minimise the stigma, and disruption to his studies.
But Deputy Public Prosecutor Joshua Lim said the SDO was "entirely inappropriate" in cases of this nature where the principles of general deterrence must apply because of issues of public health and safety.
The prosecution accepted the defendant's explanation that he gave blood because two friends who were donating had asked him to join them at short notice.
DPP Lim added that the three- to four-month jail sentence and $10,000 fine he sought should not be seen as the prosecution taking a "more charitable approach" - and if a person used the blood-donation procedure for cynical purposes, such as blood testing, the prosecution would seek a significantly higher sentence.
The maximum penalty for the offence is a $20,000 fine and two years' jail.
This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.