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Pregnant DH set to fly home after winning appeal

21 August 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A pregnant Filipina domestic worker who was sentenced to three months in jail for working in her employer’s restaurant was ordered released immediately by the High Court on Aug 2 so she could fly home the next day.

But the appellant, Candelaria Fabroa, was warned sternly by Justice Audrey Patricia Campbell-Moffat to leave Hong Kong on Aug 3, or she would again be in breach of law and returned to jail as her recognizance paper was expiring on the same day.

“Remember that yours is an exceptional case. I’m doing this because you are pregnant,” Campbell-Moffat told the appellant.

The judge took just a short time hearing the case as she had already heard the issues when Fabroa first appeared in court to apply for leave to appeal out of time on July 14.

The judge asked Fabroa to present in court two documents: her pregnancy test result and her plane ticket to the Philippines, before allowing the appeal to proceed.

At the same time, the judge instructed Fabroa to ask Shatin magistrate Colin Wong his reasons for convicting the maid.

Campbell-Moffat upheld Wong’s reasons for convicting Fabroa despite the Filipina’s claim that the magistrate had ignored the weight of her evidence during trial in December last year.

Wong had relied on the testimony of an immigration officer who arrested Fabroa on July 26 last year at the Big Mama restaurant in Shaukeiwan.

The officer, together with a colleague, posed as customers and were served by Fabroa who was then wearing an apron. Not only did she take their order and punched it into the cash machine, she also served their food and took a $100 bill from them as payment. She was also seen by the witness in the act of putting some food in a plastic takeout bag.

In her defence, Fabroa said she was just helping a Filipino staff in the restaurant when the officers arrested her.

But Campbell-Moffat allowed the appeal against sentence mainly because the appellant was five months pregnant and wanted to go home as soon as possible.

The judge was moved to help after learning that the Filipina was turned away by Hong Kong hospitals when she needed a checkup because she had no Hong Kong ID, just her recognizance paper by Immigration.

Campbell-Mofatt ordered that Fabroa’s three-month sentence be reduced by 44 days, effectively releasing the appellant, who had already served 46 days,

The judge instructed Fabroa to go to the Castle Peak Immigration Centre in Tuen Mun on Aug 3 where she would be given back her passport and escorted to the airport.

Asked whether she had any question, the Filipina said: “I just want to ask if I can work again in Hong Kong after I give birth.”

The judge referred the question to Daryanani, who consulted the Immigration lawyer and then replied it was possible for long-term employees but on a case-by-case basis. He cited as precedent a convicted maid who was allowed back by Immigration because she had been taking care of an elderly man for a long time.

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