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DH who kept employer’s ‘discarded’ bags tried for theft

22 January 2018

The trial at Tuen Mun court will resume on Feb 15
By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic helper who kept for herself two shoulder bags her female employer had allegedly discarded is being tried in Tuen Mun Court on a charge of theft.

Rosanna Ranola’s trial began on Jan 22 with employer Lam Ka-wai telling the court she discovered the theft only last Oct 4, after she argued with the maid about her daughter’s school wear. She said other items had gone missing but she had no proof who stole them.

Ranola, in her 40s and hired by Lam in May 2016, had pleaded not guilty.

Lam said Ranola’s performance had turned unsatisfactory after her family moved to a two-storey house in The Oakwoods in Yuen Long, from a 13th-floor  flat in Taiwai in February last year. The employers and their daughter had their bedrooms on the second floor while Ranola had her own room and bathroom on the ground floor.

Lam, who works at a bank, said the maid began complaining she had more work to do after the move, as the house was now bigger. She also said Ranola could not understand instructions, even in preparing food.

On the night of Oct 4, Lam asked why Ranola did not wash a school wear her daughter needed the next day. They argued and the maid said she wanted to quit right away.

Lam said she told the Filipina she could leave only on Nov 2 because the helper must give her one month’s notice, but Ranola replied, “No! I want to go now.”

The maid reportedly ran into her room and started calling up her friends. When Lam followed Ranola, she saw that her suitcase had been packed and her other big bag was half-full.

The employer ordered Ranola to bring out her luggage into the living room and unpack it. There Lam said she saw her yellow canvass and leather shoulder bag worth $1,500 wrapped in the maid’s clothes and buried under a pile of other clothing.

When Lam asked the maid why she took her bag, the helper allegedly said the employer gave it to her, then changed her reply, saying, “You threw it away.”

Ranola’s luggage allegedly further yielded a brown leather shoulder bag, which Lam said she bought for $1,500. The bag was also wrapped in garment and hidden under clothes.

Lam’s testimony dragged on until past 4pm as the defense counsel cross-examined her.

Magistrate May Chung interrupted Lam several times, reminding her only to agree or disagree when asked to do so by the defense counsel, and not to question the lawyer.

The defense lawyer asked Lam when was the last time she saw the bags and the woman replied about the time of their move from Taiwai to Yuen Long. Lam said she did not discard the bags because they were not worn out as she had used them only twice a year.

The lawyer also asked Lam why she did not want Ranola to go and instead told her to finish her contract if she was not satisfied with her performance.

“You should have fired the defendant if you were not satisfied with her performance,” the lawyer said. But Lam said she needed the maid because her daughter was not yet 18 and somebody had to look after the child when she went to work.

Putting it to Lam that she was “aggressive”, the lawyer played back in court a voice recording made by Ranola of a woman screaming at the maid for not understanding cookbook instructions on preparing “easy food” and instead cooked “crazy food.”

The counsel also asked Lam why she told the defendant to dial 999 after discovering the missing bags, but took the phone from the helper and instead talked to the police herself.

“You did not give the defendant a chance to talk to the police,” the lawyer said.

Two other witnesses are due to give evidence when the trial resumes on Feb 15.

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