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Ex- DH of judge set to file claims after theft acquittal

16 June 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic worker is set to file labor claims against her former employer, a High Court judge, ,after being acquitted of theft charges.

Marites Canacio was found not guilty on June 15 of stealing $3,700 from her fellow Filipina maid at Judge Jonathan Harris' house on the Peak

Canacio was acquitted of the charge by Magistrate Cheung Kit-yee on the last day of trial of the theft case held in the Wanchai law courts.

Judge Harris and his Japanese wife testified for the prosecution were in court for the verdict.

Cheung rejected the testimony of the main prosecution witness, Rosiene Cuento Cagalitan, who spent two days on the witness stand. She gave testimony on the alleged events that led the judge to terminate Canacioon Jan.13 The defendant, who stayed at the Consulate’s shelter for troubled workers, chose not to take the witness stand.

She was helped by the Mission for Migrant Workers in preparing her statement and documentary proof such as receipts for the remittance she made for Cagalitan, Googleplay card receipts and the printed transcripts of her phone conversations with her accuser.

An officer of the assistance to nationals section of the Consulate told The SUN that Canacio would press her labor claims against Harris now that she had been acquitted.

Following her acquittal, Canacio, accompanied by the ATN officer, went to Eastern Court to secure a court clearance. She also claimed back her bail money from the court.

Canacio was charged with one count of theft for allegedly stealing $3,700 cash from Cagalitan, with whom she shared a room and a bunkbed in the house of Harris on Mt Kellett Road, The Peak.

The defendant originally faced another charge of stealing Harris' wallet which contained $600, but this was later withdrawn.

Magistrate Cheung said she could not convict the defendant based on Cagalitan's statement, as the latter was unreliable.

Cheung also chided the prosecutor for wasting court time by insisting to present Mrs Harris as the second witness although she had nothing substantial to add to Cagalitan’s evidence.

Due to the prosecution’s insistence in calling Mrs Harris to testify, Cheung stopped the hearing twice. First, she asked the couple to leave the courtroom as she discussed with the prosecutor her insistence in getting Mrs Harris’ to testify. Second, when Cheung instructed the prosecutor to explain to the Harris couple her objection.

Defense counsel Mohammed Shah tried to show during his cross-examination of Cagalitan that the Filipina had conspired with an Indonesian former co-worker to get Harris to fire Canacio.

At the time  of the alleged theft, the Indonesian maid was about to resume working for the Harris household.  Cagalitan also allegedly forced Canacio to sign a termination letter prepared by Harris on Jan. 13,

According to Cagalitan, she found the envelope containing her missing money hidden inside Canacio's pillow. Only $1,700 was allegedly left of her money.

Police arrested Canacio at the Hong Kong International Airport on the evening of Jan 14 as she was about to board a flight to Manila.

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