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Filipina jailed 8 months despite denying she stole from 2 employers

22 January 2024

 

The first 2 thefts happened in this Happy Valley estate 7 & 10 years ago

A 58-year-old Filipina who had denied stealing from her two employers, saying the items she took were either gifts or given to her for disposal, was today ordered jailed for eight months.

Merlita Batobato was found guilty after trial of three counts of theft by Principal Magistrate Ivy Chui at Eastern Court.

Magistrate Chui said she did not believe Batobato’s testimony and found that her two employers, one of whom she served for 25 years, were more reliable witnesses.

TAWAG NA!

She mentioned in particular the second charge, which alleged that Batobato had stolen five bags, one mobile phone, two watches, three necklaces, one wallet, one tablet and three cameras from the house of her latest employer, Betty So Wa-man in Homantin Hill Road, Kowloon, on Sept. 11 last year.

The defendant claimed the items were given to her by So for disposal but she decided to keep them without first checking inside the bag that held them.

Chui said she found this claim unreasonable. She also pointed out that the items found in the defendant's possession were “not disposable items”, leading to the conclusion that the defendant had stolen them. 

PINDUTIN

The magistrate also found Batobato to have lied about the three other items found in her possession, all belonging to her first employer, Nancy Ku, and were used as bases for charging her with two separate theft charges.

In the first charge, Batobato was accused of stealing a Cartier watch from Ku in 2017 from her house on Village Road in Happy Valley. The third charge was for two branded wallets which Ku claimed was stolen from her in 2014.

All three items were found when So had the helper’s things searched, leading to her arrest.   

In her defense, Batobato said both items were given to her by Ku for her decades of service, and were rewards for her agreeing not to be paid when the employer encountered financial difficulty during the pandemic.

Batobato also claimed that to help her earn a salary during that time, Ku referred her to a “popo,” a friend and sibling of So, the second employer. Shortly afterwards, So signed her up as a domestic helper, on Ku’s recommendation.

Referring to charges one and three, Magistrate Chui said, “I reject (her claim) that those items were given and not stolen.”

In mitigation, Batobato’s counsel, Eric Curlewis, said Batobato had a clear record during her long years of working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper.

“It’s a shame that she has been found guilty of these offences so late in her career,” said Curlewis, who then tried to ask for a lenient sentence, and if possible, a non-custodial one.

But Chui immediately reminded him that a breach of trust was involved, and that a prison term was inevitable.

She set down a prison term of six months for the first charge, four months for the second charge, and one month for the third charge. Applying the totality principle, she ordered that only the two months for the second charge be served consecutive to the 6 months in the first charge.

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PADALA NA!

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