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Court cases' roundup

28 March 2016

New court eyed for case against 4 alleged drug mules
Four Filipina tourists arrested last September at the airport for alleged trafficking of almost 2 kilograms of cocaine will see their case moved to another venue shortly, as the defense expressed impatience at its being adjourned for the fourth month.
Prosecution revealed the plan for a change of venue as Shirley Chua, Maricel Thomas, Remelyn Roque and Ana Louella Creus appeared in Tsuen Wan Court for the fourth time on Feb. 29.
The prosecutor applied for an adjournment of the hearing until Mar 14 because she said she would seek legal advice due to the large quantity of dangerous drug involved, as she was still trying to get a new venue for the hearing.
Drug trafficking cases involving large amounts of drugs are normally heard in the High Court. In cases where defendants pleaded guilty in magistrates’ court, the sentencing was held in the High Court.
The court heard that the actual amount of cocaine found hidden in secret compartments of the suitcases of Chua and Thomas when they were arrested at Hong Kong International Airport on Sept 25 was 1.867 kilograms. The Customs and Excise Department initially reported the drug seized at 2.5 kilos.
Roque and Creus who arrived on the same flight as the two other accused, were arrested at the airport on Sept 27 as they were about to board the plane back to Manila after passing through customs undetected.
Counsel for the first two defendants objected to the planned adjournment, saying the case had been adjourned four times since early October with the previous hearing rescheduled for the same reasons.
Magistrate Ada Yim asked the prosecutor about the defense’s complaint and was told the prosecution was still waiting for the government chemist’s report.
Yim asked the prosecutor to confirm whether the report would be ready by next adjournment, but the prosecutor said she could not confirm it.
The magistrate told the four Filipinas that because of the quantity of the dangerous drug seized from them, the prosecution was seeking legal advice and a new venue.
She adjourned the hearing until March 14 and ordered the four remanded in jail custody.- Vir B. Lumicao

Deported Pinoy jailed 26 months for returning 9 times
A Filipino who had been in and out of Hong Kong for nine times last year despite an outstanding deportation order on him for a previous offense, was jailed for  a total of 26 months on Mar 2  after pleading guilty to the repeated breaches.
Antonio Delante Jr, 46, was arrested by Hong Kong Immigration officers at the Shenzhen border when he tried to return to the SAR on Nov 21 last year. He was charged with nine counts of breaching a deportation order by the Immigration Department.
That was the ninth time he entered the city from the mainland, where he exited on Mar 24 last year after Immigration ordered his deportation on Mar 5, 2015.
The removal order followed Delante’s jailing for 18 months for attempted theft. According to the prosecution, Delante had re-entered the territory using his current name, which he said was correct, nine times between July 24 and Nov 21 last year.
Delante, who claimed he was a widowed construction worker with three children, first came to Hong Kong in 2013 using a Philippine passport bearing the name Eduardo J. Ogabar.
Counsel for the defendant, Louisa Lai, pleaded for leniency for Delante, citing his admission of guilt and his desire to be reunited with his three children, two boys and a girl no now aged 8, 12, and 15.The children are reportedly living with Delante’s mother-in-law.
Judge Ernest Leung gave Delante an 18-month jail sentence for each charge, discounted by one-third from 27 months because of the convict’s guilty plea. But Leung ordered the sentences to run consecutively one month after the start of each other, stretching the convict’s total time in jail to 26 months.- Vir B. Lumicao

Helper refuses deal to cut sentence
A Filipina maid accused of doing illegal work refused an offer to get her sentence reduced by helping in the investigation of her employer and an employment agency where she was made to work three days a week.
Arlene Viray, 43, pleaded guilty on Mar 10 to a charge of breach of condition of stay by working in the agency instead of just doing domestic chores in her contractual address.
The magistrate asked the prosecution to investigate Amah Search Limited, and Viray’s employer Chung Wan-fa for their liability after it was found that the agency owner and Chung were relatives. “You may ask the defendant if she is willing to help in the investigation,” Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma told the prosecutor.
The court heard that Viray came to Hong Kong on Nov 1 this year to work for Chung, but was instructed a week later by her employer to work at Amah Search Ltd in Yat Fat Building in Central.
Viray was said to be supporting an old mother and two children – a son aged 17 and going to college, and a daughter aged 16.
The defense counsel asked for leniency towards the Filipina during mitigation, citing her clear record and because she was only following her boss’ orders.
Viray was arrested on Feb 16 when Immigration officers posing as customers visited the agency and pretended to look for maids to take care of elderly people.The Filipina was observed for six minutes writing on a blackboard, and then attended to one of the officers who was inquiring about a helper for her grandparent. Viray was arrested after she showed the officer resumes of various applicants.
Ma sentenced Viray to two months in prison after cutting a third of the prescribed sentence for her guilty plea.-- Vir B. Lumicao

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