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Pinay DH acquitted of stealing $40

16 March 2019

Basto was accused of stealing two $20 from her co-worker
By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina domestic helper accused of stealing $40 from her co-worker in Saikung was acquitted of the charge on Mar 15 at Kwun Tong court. .

The defendant, 52-year-old Imelda Basto, smiled with relief after Magistrate Philip Chan pronounced his verdict.

After the magistrate left the courtroom, Basto turned around and embraced Edwina Antonio, executive director of the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge who helped her with her case and gave her shelter after being released on bail last November.
Chan said the prosecution failed to prove the case against Basto beyond reasonable doubt.

At first, however, it sounded like the magistrate’s ruling would favor Basto’s accuser, Catherine Cuadra, when he said he didn’t find the inconsistencies in the latter’s testimony material to the case.

Basto was initially accused by Cuadra of stealing $141.50 from the pocket of her jacket that she left in the kitchen of their employer’s house in Saikung on Nov 7 last year but changed the amount to $40 when she gave evidence during the trial on Mar 6.
Cuadra said that three days earlier, she lost the $2,000 that she had kept padlocked in her rucksack in the room that she shared with Basto.

But as she had no proof to pin down Basto, Cuadra said she photographed two $20 bills and put them in her jacket’s pocket along with other cash before she left with their employer to fetch her ward from school.
When she checked the money in her jacket, she said she found the two $20 bills gone but not the rest of the amount totaling $141.50,  and reported the matter to their employer the next morning. Police were called and during a search of Basto’s suitcase, they found the missing bills in her wallet, so they arrested her.

On cross-examination, defense counsel Yasmine Zahir asked why Cuadra did not report when her $2,000 went missing from her rucksack, but told the employers and called police when she lost $40.

 Zahir also asked Cuadra if she did not find it unreasonable that Basto took only $40 and not the whole $141.50.

The defense lawyer suggested to Cuadra that she made up the theft story because she wanted to get rid of Basto, with whom she had had arguments over the division of work.

Cuadra disagreed, saying they were in good terms.

In her defense, Basto said the $20 bills were payment for the $40 she had lent to Cuadra on Nov. 3. When she asked for it back, Cuadra told her to get it from the jacket as she and their employer were in a rush to pick up her ward.

Basto said Cuadra made up the story because she did not want to take orders from her. Basto had been working for their employer for more than three years when Cuadra was hired as a second maid in September 2017.


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