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Pinay DH claims frame-up in RMB1,700 theft

11 May 2019

The Filipina was tried in Eastern Court 

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina has denied stealing 1,700 renminbi from her employer’s home in Mid-Levels in December last year, as she took the witness stand in Eastern Court on May 11.

Ana Liezel Berbana told the court she knew nothing about the money that her employer, Wong Man-nga, had accused her of stealing.
She claimed that the accusation and her eventual arrest on Dec 21 came a day after she complained to Wong about having to use her own money to buy extra food for the employer’s household.

Defense lawyer, Philip Ross, had implied through his questioning of the maid that everything must have been set up by Wong.
First, Ross said, the employer had her renminbi notes photocopied before reporting to the police that she had lost them.

He said Wong then left 40 renminbi notes unattended in her handbag on her bed and then ordered the Filipina to clean the bathroom in her bedroom, a reversal of her standing order for the maid never to enter the employer’s room.
Ross also said the 33-year-old defendant was working in two houses – in Wong's flat on Caine Road, and her son’s Conduit Road flat, to take care of his baby.

Berbana has denied stealing the banknotes of 100 renminbi each that had allegedly gone missing from Wong’s handbag on Dec 21.
The Filipina said that after returning from McDonald’s for her dinner, she was ordered by Wong to clean her bathroom. Seeing the room messy, Berbana said she tidied it a bit after cleaning the bathroom,  then went to her room to rest. 

A short while later she heard Wong open the gate and talk to some people. This was followed by a knock on her bedroom door. When Berbana opened the door she saw two police officers who told her Wong had lost some money. She reportedly asked them, “When and how much?”
The two officers then began searching her room, including her beddings and clothes. One of the officers searched three jackets hanging on a rod but found nothing.

The other officer brought out Berbana’s suitcase to the living room and laid her clothes on the floor. Throughout the search, Wong stood outside the maid’s room watching the proceedings while talking in Cantonese with the officer.
When the first officer was done searching the room, the other took the jackets and laid them on the couch near the dining table next to where the employer was standing. After sifting through the helper’s clothes, he turned to the jackets and searched their pockets.  

Suddenly a white plastic bag fell out of the black jacket’s pocket. It contained a sanitary napkin wrapped in a tissue paper but, on closer look, contained 17 pieces of 100-renminbi bank notes.
The Filipina said she was surprised because she did not know how the plastic bag got into her jacket’s pocket and did not even know what it contained.

Ross, summing up the defense case, said it looked like everything was set up like a trap.

Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan asked Ross if he was saying the maid was framed up. The lawyer said it was so.

Ross then asked his client pointblank if she ever committed a crime in other places she had been to, if she had been convicted of a crime, and if she was guilty of the offense for which she was being tried. Berbana answered “No” to all questions.

Magistrate Lam adjourned the case to May 16 for the verdict.
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