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Pinay freed after being sentenced for theft to time served in jail

17 June 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Eastern Magistrate imposed the 'short' sentence after defendant's family paid back all the money that was stolen

A young single mother who admitted stealing nearly $29,000 in customers’ fees at a fitness center in Wanchai walked free today, Jun 17, after an Eastern Court magistrate sentenced her to 20 days in jail.

But as she had already been detained for a total of 21 days, defendant S.M.G. was set free.

Her sentence was imposed after her family completed paying back the money that she had stolen, and because she showed remorse for what she had done.
“Defendant, I have considered the facts of your case. I believe you are very remorseful and I impose a short custodial sentence,” said Magistrate Veronica Heung after listening to the mitigation by the defense lawyer.

S.M.G., a 31-year-old mother to a young girl, was sentenced to 20 days in jail for each of two counts of theft, to be served concurrently.

Her parents and three siblings wept openly outside the courtroom when the sentencing was over. They hugged each other, as well as the defense counsel and the female owner of a bookshop chain, to thank them for their support.
S.M.G. pleaded guilty on May 28 to two counts of theft for pocketing cash totaling $28,737.75 that she had been asked to deposit in the bank account of Fitness First on two occasions in November last year.

At the time of the offenses, she was employed as a clerk at the gym in Tower 535 on Jaffe Road. The manager found out later that the money was not deposited.

When confronted, she agreed to repay the company but managed to return only $6,000. On Apr 18 this year, she was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport

The defense counsel said today her relatives were ready to pay back another $4,000 to fully reimburse what S.M.G. had stolen. He said $24,737 had already been repaid.

Heung ordered a break to allow the relatives to make the payment.

The defense counsel begged leniency for his client, saying she was born in Hong Kong where she also studied. She got to third year of a four-year university course but dropped out when she got pregnant and became a single mom.

The lawyer said S.M.G. took out a $10,000 loan from a finance company. But, as she was sending money to her family back home and supporting her baby, she could hardly repay the loan until she took the company’s money and got fired.

The defendant got a job with American Club but did not disclose her case, until the employer found out about it and dismissed her.
S.M.G. finally found a job as clerk in Bookazine and proved herself to be an asset and a benefit to the company, often working overtime, the lawyer said.

When the employer learned about S.M.G.’s case, she gave her support by attending the hearing and promising in a letter to the court that the company is still open to hiring her.


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