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Pinay jailed for 3 months for stealing jewelry says she'll appeal conviction

18 April 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper was sentenced today, Apr 18, to three months in jail for stealing a platinum ring and other jewelry pieces from her employer’s mother-in-law.

Her lawyer immediately said she will appeal the conviction.

Defendant Gladys Manuel stood calm and emotionless as Eastern Court Magistrate Peter Yu, reading from a written judgment, said he was convicting her based on the strong evidence against her.
The magistrate issued his verdict more than a month after the trial on Mar 5 during which the alleged owner of the jewelry, Lee Man-ying, gave evidence.

Manuel decided not to give evidence and the defense did not present any witness.
Lee said she lost a 1.06 carat yellow diamond ring, a platinum ring, a small piece of diamond, a pair of earrings with 0.6-carat and 0.7-carat diamonds, and a pair of purple crystal earrings. She valued the gold ring at $3,000 and the platinum ring at $6,600.

The magistrate gave credence to Lee’s testimony, saying he found her honest and reliable.

During the trial, Lee said she took off the ring and the pair of earrings after coming home from a party on Dec 12 and kept them in a small plastic box in her bedroom. At the time, she said she had just returned from a trip to the United States.

She told the court that before the left for the US on Nov 28 last year, she gave Manuel her spare keys so the maid could enter her flat and take care of her grandchild.
Manuel, meanwhile, went home to the Philippines for her Christmas vacation. During her absence, when Lee noticed that her rings were missing, she and her son searched Manuel’s room and found pawnshop receipts.

The helper returned to Hong Kong on Jan 2 and the next day Lee asked her to accompany her to the pawnshop so she could redeem the pawned jewelry. 

Lee paid $1,700 to redeem the pawned items. Seeing the item were hers, she called the police and Manuel was arrested. The officers found the earrings in the maid’s bag.

The magistrate said he did not believe the maid’s claim that the two rings and the earrings were hers. He also said he did not find it unreasonable that Lee would call the police after seeing the pawned items were hers.
In mitigation, Manuel’s lawyer said she was a single mother with two daughters one aged 9, and the other who turned 2 today.
He asked for a very lenient sentence, saying that Manuel had repaid the $1,700 redemption money. However, Yu said the case was a breach of trust that called for an immediate custodial sentence.

He did not give any discount for the prescribed sentence of three months’ jail.

The defense lawyer immediately applied for bail for the helper so she could appeal the verdict in the High Court, but the magistrate refused the application.

The lawyer said after the hearing that he would file the appeal just the same even if his client would have served out her sentence by the time the appeal is heard.
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