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Filipina DH guilty of child abuse, gets 4-week sentence

24 May 2023


The Kowloon court convicted the Filipina of one count of child abuse

A Filipina domestic helper was found guilty on Tuesday, May 23, of one of three counts of assaulting her Hong Kong employer’s nearly two-year-old son last March, and sentenced by a magistrate in West Kowloon Law Courts to 4 weeks in prison.

But the defendant, Shaira Joy Umbao, is expected to be released within the day as she has been detained in the Tai Lam women’s correctional in Tuen Mun since her March 17 arrest.

She was tried on three counts of “wilful assault causing injury to a child,” which was amended by the prosecution to “”wilful assault in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to a child” before Magistrate Leung Ka-kie.


Vivian Wong, a lawyer from the Duty Lawyers Service who represented Umbao, said her client would be released on May 24.

Umbao, a petite 28-year-old from Davao City who arrived in Hong Kong on Aug. 3, 2022, took the witness stand Tuesday and refuted the evidence given by the prosecution, mainly the testimony of the child’s father, Mr Chan, and five CCTV footages purportedly showing the alleged assaults.

Wong replayed three of the five 10-second video clips and asked the defendant what she was doing to the boy.

Magkano? Pindutin ito!

Umbao replied that, in the first footage captured at 6:15pm on March 14 that showed the defendant holding the child’s two hands and forcefully pulling him up, the boy had been crying for several minutes and she was afraid he would choke, so she pulled up and hugged him.

She said that moment she recalled an incident where a six-year-old child of her friend who was left to wail for 15 minutes was rushed to a hospital because he was already choking.

On the footage showing her pressing the child’s foot on Lego blocks, the defendant said the child loves to play with Lego toys and stepping barefoot on the blocks, so she was showing him that it was dangerous and painful to do that. The timer showed it happened at 7:39pm on March 15.


Wong also asked Umbao about the third footage, captured at 12:08pm on March 16, which showed the helper leaving the master’s room as the boy lay crying after she allegedly threw him into the cot.

The defendant replied the boy was sleepy and crying while they were on the bus, so she put him in the cot then left, but returned and picked him up when she heard him crying. She said she put the child back in the cot when he stopped crying.

Wong said the prosecution seemed to be biased against the defendant by showing just 10-second clips of the alleged incidents without showing what led to the alleged assaults and what happened afterwards. She also said there were no injuries to the child.

Pindutin para sa detalye

She also asked why Chan reported the alleged incidents to police only on the evening of May 17, saying that if the matter was serious, then the parent’s natural reaction would be to call the police immediately.       

The lawyer also asked Umbao to tell what happened on the morning of March 17.

The helper replied that last November, Chan’s wife asked that her husband be awakened every 7am so that he won’t get late for work. The company he worked for as a surveyor had a policy of fining employees $100 whenever they arrived late.

Umbao said Chan was very upset when he woke up at 7:40am, as she was very busy with housework that she forgot to wake him up.

Wong also cited several loopholes in Chan’s evidence. The lawyer also played back videos that Umbao had posted on Facebook, starting with a shot of two hands clasping each other.

Asked whose hands were those, the helper said it was hers and her “Ma’am’s” while they were at Hong Kong Disneyland. She said the female employer even bought her a Disney one-year pass so that they could go there with the child regularly.

Umbao said they were close because the female employer was very kind to her, buying her clothes and dining out with her and the child and letting her taste delicious Chinese dishes.

As a video she had posted on Facebook showing her happily teaching the boy his body parts was replayed, she began sobbing and wiping off her tears. She said she loved her ward, as she did with three babies she nannied as a domestic helper in Davao while taking up BS Information Technology.

She said she then applied for work in Malaysia as a plantation worker but did not renew her contract because she and a fellow worker were not allowed to use their cellphones during the week.

After listening to Umbao’s evidence, Magistrate Leung went into her chamber and when she returned 30 minutes before 6:30pm, she said she considered the prosecution’s and the defense’s cases and said there was evidence of assault on the child in the first video footage, while the two other videos did not prove the prosecution’s case beyond reasonable doubt.

She said she also saw some inconsistencies in the prosecution witness’ evidence.

Finding Umbao guilty of the first offense, Leung sentenced her to four weeks in jail. 

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