A Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong was fined HK$800 (P5,124) after she was found guilty of one count of theft chargec. She confessed to eating meatballs that belonged to her former employer last year.
Mildred Ladia, 40, however, walked free from another charge alleging that she stole two pairs of leather slippers and an Agnes b bag. Prosecutors decided not to pursue the case.
Ladia sobbed as she pleaded guilty before the court as she entered guilty plea on one count of theft and denied the other.
The Eastern Court heard that her then employer, barrister Gekko Lan Suet-ying, had already deducted HK$100 from her salary of HK$4,210 as compensation when she was arrested last year.
With her conviction, Ladia is expected to lose the opportunity to ever find employment in Hong Kong.
“The consequences of criminal conviction for my client are devastating,” she told the court. “She … will not be employable again in Hong Kong,” defense counsel Theresa Low said, adding that her client valued her job enormously being the family’s sole breadwinner, supporting her three children aged between seven and 20.
The Filipina helper arrived in Hong Kong to work for Lan in August 2015. She had previous experience working in similar jobs in Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
In a report by South China Morning Post, on May 30 last year, Lan reported to police that some meatballs stored in the freezer at her Repulse Bay Road residence had gone missing and that Ladia had admitted to eating them despite she had not given her permission to do so.
Low said her client is aware that the case is a breach of trust and that she is remorseful. The defense counsel then asked for an absolute discharge, a request rejected by magistrate Jason Wan, who found the nature of the offense quite serious because it involved breach of trust.
“Tremendous trust is placed on a domestic worker by her employer,” he said in sentencing, but went on to stop short of imposing jail term to the defendant, noting that the stolen obkect was a food item of low monetary value, and that compensation had been made.
What’s worst for Ladia is that she’ll lose her job and ability to work in Hong Kong.