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DH gets suspended sentence for managing inn as employer-owner walks free

17 May 2019

The Eastern court magistrate acquitted employer
who owns the unlicensed guesthouse 

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina helper was sentenced on May 15 in Eastern Court to nine weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, for breaching her condition of stay by managing an unlicensed guesthouse in Causeway Bay.

In contrast, her employer and co-defendant, who owns the flat in which the guesthouse is located, was acquitted of managing the unlicensed unit. 

Magistrate Vivian Ho found Pamela Mae Soriano, 38, guilty of two counts of “breach of condition of stay” and one count of “managing a guesthouse without a certificate of exemption of a license” after trial on Apr 24-25.
Ho said the prosecution had successfully proved the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt on all three charges.
But the magistrate acquitted the elderly employer, Tse Wing-leung, saying the prosecution was not able to establish his guilt because he was not in the guesthouse during the two nights that an undercover police officer had rented a room there.

Soriano and Tse both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them on Mar 4.
Officers who gave evidence in court said they raided the guesthouse on Jul 11 after confirming that the Filipina was illegally managing the guesthouse, which was part of a flat owned by Tse.

One of the officers said that at around 2:45pm on May 2 last year he booked a room for one night in the guesthouse and was attended to by Soriano, who charged him $1,200.
Then on Jul 11, the officer again booked a room. This time the rate Soriano charged was $1,800 and she issued him a receipt.

The officer then called his team members and they raided the premises, arresting Soriano on a charge of managing an unlicensed guesthouse. They also discovered she was a domestic worker employed by Tse, who owned the guesthouse.                                                                                                                                                          

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Tse was also arrested, but was only charged with managing an unlicensed guesthouse.

In mitigation, the defense lawyer said Soriano was a mother of two who had separated from her husband and was the sole breadwinner of her family that included her sick mother.

The lawyer pleaded for a lenient, non-custodial sentence, citing the Filipina’s financial situation.

In sentencing, Ho said she realized that the maid could not have committed the offense on her own.
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