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High Court rejects bail for Filipina appealing theft conviction

12 September 2019

The judge noted that the trial magistrate
spent a long time analyzing the theft case
By Vir B. Lumicao
A Filipina resident jailed for five months for theft for keeping $28,000 in collected fees to a kindergarten operator on Lantau Island, failed in her bid to obtain bail pending an appeal against her conviction at the High Court.

Marivee Alconaba, who was found guilty on Aug 12 by a magistrate in West Kowloon Court, appeared before Judge Remedios D’Almada of the Court of First Instance on Sept 11 for the hearing of her bail application.

Alconaba was represented by a solicitor from S.C. Ho & Co. who challenged the magistrate’s verdict that found her guilty of the charge.

The court was told that Alconaba had been entrusted by the school operator, Mr Muhammed, to accept payments and deposit these to his bank account.
But on Sept 18 last year, the day she was supposed to take the money to the bank, she had to go to hospital for a scheduled Caesarian section.

Had the magistrate considered the possibility that Alconaba would turn in the money but could not deposit it right away could have led to acquittal, the lawyer said.
She said there was no evidence the woman had the intention to keep the money and that the prosecution was not able to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The lawyer said also said her client had worked one full year at the school and won the operator’s trust. She added that her client was now applying for bail as she was worried she would have served out her sentence before her appeal is heard.
Judge D’Almada said that Alconaba should have gone to the bank to deposit the money first before going to the hospital. She also asked why the appellant kept the money at home for two months.

The prosecutor, for her part, commented that all the evidence gathered during the investigation showed that there was no genuine intention or guarantee that Alconaba would return the money.

Judge D’Almada noted that the Filipina’s case was a simple theft, but it had taken the magistrate 51 pages to state his verdict after thoroughly analyzing all the evidence gathered.

The judge said after considering the magistrate’s careful analysis of the case, she did not see any chance of success for an appeal. She thus rejected the bail application.
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