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Employer cleared, DH gets suspended sentence on illegal work

05 February 2018

A Hong Kong employer has been acquitted by the Shatin Court of conspiracy to breach immigration rules while her Filipina helper has been given a three-month jail sentence suspended for three years.

The two cases had been tried separately in Shatin, but the court had delayed the sentencing of Cecelia Guevarra until Feb 5 pending the outcome of the employer’s trial.

Cecelia Guevarra was found guilty
The employer, May Lui, was cleared of two counts of “conspiracy to breach of condition of stay” filed against her by prosecutors from the Immigration Department.

Lui hugged relatives and broke into tears after Magistrate Winnie Lau exonerated her because the prosecutors were not able to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Guevarra, Lui’s domestic helper for eight years, pleaded guilty in June 7 to two counts of “breach of condition of stay” and “making false representation to an immigration officer lawfully acting …in the execution of Part III of the Immigration Ordinance”.

She faced two more charges of breach of condition of stay and another of making a false statement but these were withdrawn later by the prosecution.

The prosecution cited as basis for the two conspiracy charges the latest two work contracts that Lui and the Filipina had signed, which stated the maid was to work in her employers’ house at all times.

Guevarra was arrested on May 8, 2016 while she was inside her employer’s office in Central. The case dragged on for several months as the Immigration officers also filed a complaint against her employer and wooed the Filipina to testify against Lui.

In her reason for verdict, Magistrate Lau said that defendant Lui elected not to give evidence and, so, it was the prosecution’s responsibility to justify its case and prove she was guilty of the charges beyond reasonable doubt.
Employer May Lui walks free from the same case.
The prosecution presented Guevarra and a local woman who was a former office staff of Lui as its witnesses.

Lau said Guevarra testified she worked in Lui’s Central office for one and a half hours three times a week between June 2015 and Dec 2015. She said she had spent 30% to 40% of her time working in the office during that period.

The helper also admitted she owed Lui $20,000 and had not yet repaid it.                              

The magistrate said Guevarra’s evidence was contradicted by the second witness, who said Lui moved to her Central office only in November 2015.

Lau said that piece of evidence already contradicted Guevarra’s claim that her employer moved to Central on Feb 6, 2016.

“I’m not satisfied that the prosecution had established beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. Defendant, I acquit you of both charges,” Lau declared.

On Feb 5, the prosecutor told Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan that Guevarra pleaded guilty to the charges eight months ago and helped the prosecution investigate and build a case against Lui.

Lam noted the help Guevarra extended in the investigation of Lui and said he accepted that the maid had followed orders to perform illegal work.

“I’ve considered the facts of the case and accepted the mitigation that you have a clear record and was just following orders,” the magistrate said.

He sentenced Guevarra to 6 weeks in jail for each of the two breach of condition charges and 3 months for making false representation to an immigration officer.

Guevarra told The SUN she was happy with the sentence but had to go to Immigration on Feb 6 and find out whether she could look again for an employer.
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