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Filipina fined $1,000 for stealing employer’s $350

16 October 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

A 37-year-old Filipina helper has lost her job, paid a $1,000 fine and faces immediate deportation – all because she stole $350 from her employer.

Joyce Atonen, who is in Hong Kong for just over three months, pleaded guilty in Kowloon City Court on Oct 16 to two charges of stealing a total of $350 in cash from her employer around mid-September.

Kowloon City Court
Atonen, who arrived in Hong Kong only in July, could not stop sobbing when she appeared before Magistrate Vivian Wong for committal to the court after police had completed their investigation.

The mother of five faced two charges of theft for allegedly stealing $200 and $150 on separate occasions from a drawer inside her employer’s bedroom in a unit at Bright View Court, Argyle St., Kowloon City.

The employer, a Chinese female surnamed Chan, reportedly put $1,000 in the drawer in mid-September. When she checked the money later, she noticed that $200 was missing.

Suspecting that the defendant took the money, Chan marked the remaining cash with a small tag. The employer checked the money again on Oct 2 and noticed that the tag had moved and another $150 was missing.

Chan dismissed Atonen on Oct 3 and reported the theft to the police on Oct 8. The defendant was arrested and investigated at the Hung Hom Police Station on Sunday, Oct 14, and was charged with theft the next day.

The prosecution said Atonen had admitted taking the money because she needed it for her expenses.

In mitigation, the duty lawyer assigned to the Filipina said the defendant is the sole breadwinner in the family and her three younger children are still going to school.

Magistrate Wong told the helper that theft was a breach of trust, a serious offense. But she noted that the amount stolen was small and a fine was appropriate.

Wong fined Atonen $1,000.

The Filipina said she had to take back her cell phone from the police so she could call a friend and seek help to raise money for the fine. But the magistrate said the helper must pay the fine before 5pm on Oct 16.

After Wong had left the courtroom, Danny Baldon, an officer of the assistance to nationals unit of the Consulate, consoled Atonen by assuring her the Consulate would pay the fine so she could be released that day.

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