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Court throws out employer’s theft accusation vs Filipina helper

08 February 2022


The Filipina was cleared of the theft charge at Kowloon City Courts

A Filipina who was accused by her former employer of stealing items ranging in value from two notebook computers to a hair clip, was cleared of theft charges today at the Kowloon City Courts.

Liezel S. Yape, 39, from Dumaguete City, burst into tears as she listened to an interpreter translate to Cebuano the verdict being read in English by Magistrate Chung Wing-sze. She then hugged barrister Belinda Ma, who defended her in the case.

Yape’s ordeal began when her employer, Alice Li, 72, accused her of stealing several items from the house on June 28 last year.


According to the magistrate’s recounting of facts, Li and Yape had just returned to the employer's house in Tsim Sha Tsui after its renovation. They had to stay in a hotel previously. 

Yape was unpacking household items – contained in 60 boxes labelled in Chinese -- under her employer’s supervision when Li asked about a number of items that she felt were missing. When Yape could not tell her where the items were, Li accused her of stealing them and called the police.

Officers searched Yape’s sleeping area, and found three items containing her belongings -- a luggage, a rucksack and a handbag. In the luggage was a tablet computer which Yape said Li had given to her and which Li said she stole. Yape was arrested but released two days later, after posting bail of $2,500.


Yape  and a cousin later went back to Li’s house and asked for her passport and personal belongings that were left behind when she was arrested, but the employer refused to let them in. She said she needed police permission to release Yape’s belongings. So the two asked for police help, and two officers arrived.

When Li showed police the three items that Yape was claiming, they were found to contain the tablet computer, two notebook computers, an external hard drive, a cable, a baking thermometer, measuring spoons, an alarm clock, sandals, earrings, a box of hand sanitizers, a pair of sunglasses – even a hair clip which Li claimed to be hers. 

These and Yape's three bags were held as evidence for the court case.

As holding someone else’s passport was a crime, Li was persuaded by police to return Yape’s passport.

In court, Li testified as prosecution witness along with two policemen. Yape did not.


In her decision, Magistrate Chung described Li’s testimony as “incredible” and “may not have been truthful.” She also noted that Li’s answers were indirect and unsure in some instances.

For example, she said that when police first inspected Yape’s three bags, they found only her belongings inside. The second time these were inspected, they contained the things which Li claimed were stolen by Yape. 

During the period between the two police inspections, Yape was not able to enter Li’s house and could not have touched her bags, Magistrate Chung noted.


As to the tablet computer which Li accused Yape of stealing, Magistrate Chung said Yape unlocked it with her own password, which indicated that she had openly used it in Li’s presence before and therefore could not have been stolen.

She noted that Li also stored some of her own belongings in Yape’s sleeping quarters, which was an open area.

Magistrate Chung also noted that Li had hired and fired four domestic helpers before Yape in the previous three years.

After acquitting her, Magistrate Chung ordered Yape's belongings returned to her.

With the case behind her, Yape said she was anxious to have her visa extended at Immigration so she could find another employer and be able to resume remittances to her two children, and to the Consulate for advice on what to do next. 

One possible next step: go to the Labour Department and claim for benefits she is entitled to, against her employer.
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