A Filipina domestic worker has been sentenced to six months in prison after she was found guilty of stealing her Hong Kong employer’s cash close to HK$7,000 worth of various currencies.
Kowloon City Court Magistrate Peter Law on October 31 sentenced convicted Rochelle B. Bautista, 33, after she pleaded guilty to the charge in a hearing on Oct 26.
Bautista was arrested on September 25 after her employer, identified as Ms Lee, reported to police she lost CNY2,000, USD100 and HKD3,000 placed in a plastic envelope she had kept in a red suitcase in her Tsim Sha Tsui flat.
Bautista, who has been employed by Bautista since April, was released on bail that followed a police investigation.
According to the prosecution, the stolen money was part of a larger cash value placed by Lee in five envelopes wrapped in a plastic bag and kept in the locked suitcase before she left the house on Sept 25.
When Lee returnd home in the evening, she found only CNY3,700, HKD4,000 and USD300 remained, prompting her to review her home’s CCTV footage. There she saw Bautista prying the suitcase open using a pen and taking out the plastic bag containing the money. The prosecution added that the maid was unaware of the presence of the CCTV camera.
“Stealing from your employer is a serious offense. It’s a breach of trust she placed on you,” Magistrate Law told Bautista.
After the defense lawyer asked Law to issue a compensation order, the judge delayed the sentencing. The defendant reportedly wanted to compensate her employer for the CNY2,000 and USD100.
“The court does not accept foreign currencies. So go to the money shop and exchange you money for Hong Kong dollars,” Law told the defendant as he reset the sentencing.
Magistrate Law said that even though Bautista had compensated the victim, she had committed a serious offense.