The price he has to pay for trying to get his hands on RM600 (S$230) turned out to be a costly one.
Malaysian Sasitharan Pruakaran, 23, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to 20 years' jail and 15 strokes of the cane on monday.
Last January, he collected three packets containing about 12g heroin from a person known only as Raj at Woodlands Centre.
He was told to take the packets to East Coast Road, where he would receive the addresses for delivery of the packets.
Sasitharan was promised RM200 (S$77) for each packet he delivered successfully.
Central Narcotics Bureau officers arrested him near Grand Mecure Roxy Hotel, where he was found carrying the packets and about RM2,500 (S$960) in cash.
In court, defence counsel Kea Cheng Han said Sasitharan "was only a paid lackey" who feared for his safety.
In mitigation, Mr Kea said that Sasitharan was shown a four-minute video in Malaysia of a man being assaulted by a group of three, one of whom was the person who asked him to deliver the drugs.
When Sasitharan crossed the border, he had wanted to inform the police, but was afraid as he was followed, said Mr Kea.
He had also committed the offence out of desperation to help his family of seven, which was "heavily in debt" and had "extremely limited financial means".
Said Mr Kea: "Wanting to help his family during this time of dire need, (Sasitharan) foolishly decided to deliver the drugs."
The only income earners in Sasitharan's family are his father, 51, a driver, and his younger brother, 19, who had stopped schooling to work as a resort attendant to support the family.
His mother, 46, is a housewife. He has two younger brothers, aged 21 and 13, and a sister, aged four.
Sasitharan's father, mother, youngest brother and two relatives were in court on monday to bid him a teary farewell.
They declined to comment as "they are not ready to be interviewed", one of the relatives told The New Paper.
Sasitharan is a first-time offender and was represented by a lawyer who did not charge any fees.
He was given the minimum sentence for trafficking that amount of heroin, said District Judge Brenda Tan.
He could have been given a 30-year jail term and 15 strokes under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
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