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Elderly male DH gets suspended jail term for packing boxes on day-off

28 April 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The court said the accused had a clean record in the 30 years that he had worked in HK

An elderly Filipino male helper caught packing door-to-door boxes outside a freight firm in Kowloon last month was meted a 6-week jail sentence in Shatin Court today, Apr 28, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching his visa condition.

Two younger Filipino recognizance holders, who pleaded not guilty to the same charge of taking up illegal work, claiming they were just packing boxes for female friends, will be tried in late July.


They were both charged with “taking employment while being a person in respect of whom a removal order is in force.”

The first defendant, 65-year-old R. Israel, was overjoyed when Magistrate Jason Wan said he was suspending the sentence for 12 months due to the special circumstances of the case.

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The prosecution charged Israel with “breach of condition of stay” for doing a job outside his Indian employer’s house and different from the stated nature of his work in the employment contract.

According to the charge, Immigration officers carrying out an operation against illegal workers in San Po Kong, Kowloon, around 1:30pm on Mar 14 saw a Genex Cargo lorry parked outside an industrial building on Tai Yau St.


The officers saw Israel take out two boxes filled with various stuff from the lorry. He then packed and sealed the boxes and took them to the back of the vehicle.

At 5:46pm, the officers checked Israel’s Hong Kong ID. They found out he was a domestic helper who was hired by his fourth employer in Tung Chung on Dec. 25, 2017.

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On Mar 20, he said in a statement he was instructed by a cargo company staff to bring down the boxes of his woman friend and pack them on the pavement. He said after packing the boxes and loading them on the lorry, the woman gave him $200.

In mitigation, the defense counsel said Israel is a widower, as his wheelchair-bound wife who used to be a helper in Hong Kong died last month in the Philippines. His son aged 40 suffered injuries in his head during an attack and is now mentally handicapped.

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The lawyer said his client had to do illegal work to send more money to the Philippines because the pandemic and his son’s condition had made life harder for them. He now wants to go home to be with his son, the counsel said. 

The lawyer also challenged Immigration’s prohibition on part-time job being done on the worker’s day off, saying this policy had been questioned in court many times.

The defendant’s employer also sent a letter to the court describing him as a man of good character and hardworking, the lawyer said.

In sentencing, Wan said the defendant was doing the work part-time on his day off and was not paid a high wage. “If he worked full-time over a multiple number of days, it would have been a serious case,” he said.

Wan said he considered that Israel worked here for over 30 years and had a clear record.

“Together with what happened to his family back in the Philippines, the sentence will be suspended,” Wan said. But he warned the defendant not to commit any criminal offense during the next 12 months so that he won’t go to jail.

The two other defendants, A. Quitoy and J. Entendez, were arrested also on Mar 14 at the same site in San Po Kong after they packed boxes. But they said they did it for their girlfriends without pay.

After their not guilty plea, Wan set their trial for July 27, to be continued the next day if needed. He allowed $5,000 bail for each of the two men who had been in custody since their arrest.


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