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Filipina DH jailed 2 years for stealing employer’s jewelry worth $1.2 M

26 April 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The theft happened in this luxury residential block in Homantin

A Filipina domestic helper who stole nearly $1.2 million worth of watches and jewelry from her employer in Homantin after getting mired in debt was sentenced in District Court today to two years in jail after she pleaded guilty to the offence.

Edarlyn Emperador, 51, broke into tears as her sentence was read out to her by Judge David John Dufton.

She had worked for her employer, Leung Ho-yan Irene, since 1996.


The prosecution said the defendant stole seven watches, four necklaces with pendants, 11 pairs of earrings, six pendants, six rings, four necklaces and eight gold ingots, all worth a total of $1.189 million, from her employer.

The theft occurred between Apr 16 and Jul 17 last year in the employer’s flat on Block 18, Celestial Heights, Homantin.

But Leung said the helper also stole other jewelry items she could no longer recall well, between October 2019 and August 2020.  

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The theft was discovered around 8pm by Leung on Aug 3 last year as she searched for her missing $60,000 Rolex watch. When she opened her locked wardrobe drawer, she found out her other watches and jewelry were also gone.

Leung confronted Emperador about the missing items on the evening of Aug 6 and the helper readily admitted the theft. She said she opened the drawer with a key, took the items, pawned them and sent the money to the Philippines.

Leung reported to police the next day. When officers arrested her, they found a plastic bag in her trouser pocket that contained four pawnshop receipts for watches amounting to $123,000 and two pawnshop receipts for two gold chains amounting to $25,000.

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Emperador, a single mother of five adult children, pleaded guilty after the theft charge was read to her.

In mitigation, defense lawyer Jim Sherry requested a lenient sentence, saying his client admitted the offense at the first instance and did so again during a police investigation on Aug 7 last year.

He also cited his client’s letter to the court expressing her remorse, saying she committed the offense “for my own expenses and the rest I sent to the Philippines.”  

The District Court judge dismissed Emperador's attempts to get her sentence cut

Sherry then narrated the events that reportedly led Emperador to steal from her employer of close to 24 years.


He said Emperador, the sole provider for her parents, siblings and five children, incurred huge debts to pay for her mother’s hospital expenses when she fell ill last year and was twice confined in a hospital.

In 1998, Emperador’s husband left her for another woman, leaving their three children with her. Emperador found a new partner who sired her two younger boys.

Her partner was shot dead in 2016 due to a debt from a loan shark. She had to take out another loan to pay that debt. Then on Apr 16 last year, her brother was also shot dead and she was asked to support his young daughter.

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Meantime, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and also depended on her for his medication.

Her family problems led Emperador to borrow $40,000 from Leung, which she offered to repay from her salary in monthly installments of $5,500.

She took another $55,000 loan from Leung, and borrowed from a lending firm in the Philippines, raising her debt there to over Php1 million.


Already buried in debt and unable to send money home out of the $500 that remained in her salary, she began to steal from Leung in April last year, Sherry said.

At the time, Leung allegedly stopped paying her salary because she could not meet her monthly payment for her $55,000 loan.

“She stole to pay the other loans she borrowed in the Philippines. She did not steal her employer’s property and leave Hong Kong for the Philippines,” Sherry said.

But the judge expressed “real reservations” as to Emperador’s motive for the offence, noting she had told police she stole the items out of greed, and had stolen and pawned more jewels than necessary to clear her debts.

He asked why the helper did not pay off her debts in the Philippines with the nearly $300,000 proceeds of her pawning the stolen items.

The judge also said the defendant never told the police the supposed tragedies in her life that led her to steal, or that Leung had stopped paying her salary.

But Dufton said he did not want the case to become a labor issue. After twice calling for an adjournment to clarify the defense lawyer’s grounds for mitigation, the judge said he could not consider any of the cited reasons in reducing the sentence.

Dufton imposed a sentence of two years’ imprisonment, giving a discount only for Emperador’s guilty plea. 

List of stolen items






Rolex watch with gold band



Robert Dubuis watch



Patek Philippe watch with brown band



Patek Philippe watch with silver band



Patek Philippe watch with gold band


11 pairs

Hermes earrings



Robert Dubuis necklace with pendant


8 pcs

gold ingots


6 pcs




Waltham watch


6 pcs



4 pcs




Piaget watch with platinum band



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