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Ex-DH jailed for overstaying 9 years after divorce

08 October 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A former domestic helper who missed a chance to change her immigration status when she married a Hong Kong man over a decade ago, realized her mistake only recently.

Merle dela Luna, 58 years old, was sentenced to seven months in jail by a magistrate in Shatin Court on Sept 15 for overstaying for nine years after her divorce.

“Defendant, I take into account all the facts of the case. You overstayed for a lengthy period because you were married to a Hong Kong man until you divorced in 2008,” Magistrate Winnie Lau said.

The magistrate reckoned the breach of condition of stay had been for nine years, from 2008 to the time Dela Luna was arrested on Sept 7.

She said she would have jailed the defendant for 10 and a half months, but discounted that by one-third.

The prosecution said the Filipina was arrested in North Point when police discovered during an identity check that she had remained illegally in the city.

Dela Luna pleaded guilty when she appeared in court on Sept 8, but Lau deferred sentencing for a week.

During sentencing on Sept 15, Lau adjourned the hearing for about half an hour after the defense lawyer said his client had disclosed she had been married to a Hong Kong man, a fact that could have an impact on the sentence.

The court heard that the woman came to Hong Kong in 2005 and worked as a domestic helper until June 2007.

She later met the local man who became her husband, but she did not bother to apply for a change of her immigration status by virtue of her marriage.

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