A Filipina who previously worked as domestic worker who tried to smuggle three kilos of cocaine into Hong Kong from Dubai last year was handed a jail term of 15 years and five months, after she pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, The SUN reported.
Imelda G. Penascosa, 45, was somber and emotionless as Deputy High Court Judge Gareth Lugar-Mawson read the sentence.
The mother of three, who was working as a maid in Macau at the time of her arrest, admitted her guilt at the start of what was supposed to be a seven-day trial. Penascosa was charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug for bringing in over three kilos of pure cocaine.
In mitigation, defense lawyer Jonathan Acton-Bond said Penascosa had been separated from her husband by whom she had two children aged 24 and 26. An out-of-court agreement between the prosecution and defense led to her guilty plea.
Acton-Bond pleaded for a discount to her sentence, citing the accused’s act of volunteering to help trap the recipients of the smuggled drug in a controlled delivery operation, albeit unsuccessful, outside the Customs area of the HKIA.
According to prosecution, the drug seized from the defendant had a street value of HK$4 million (P25.75 million) in the Hong Kong market.
But Judge Lugar-Mawson said he could not give the Filipina a huge discount due to the big amount of cocaine involved, her pleading guilty only on the first day of the trial, as well as the international aspect of the case. The judge noted that the sentence of 15 years and 5 months was already light, given that her offence normally carried a 23-year sentence, plus an extra 5 years due to its international aspect.
The court heard that Penascosa was arrested on the night of Feb 13 last year after she arrived from Dubai with three cans containing 248 plastic-wrapped pellets disguised as chocolate candies.
During interrogation, Penascosa said the three cans were handed to her at Dubai Airport by a Macau-based Filipino woman named Jennifer as presents for her children. Penascosa said she met Jennifer and her Filipino partner Edilberto in Macau. It was the man who suggested she went to a business seminar in Dubai and possibly get a job from the man’s Dubai employers. Jennifer bought her a return ticket on Emirates.
Penascosa entered Hong Kong through the China Ferry Terminal on Feb 8 and flew to Dubai on an Emirates plane on the same day.
Acton-Bond told the court that despite her jailing, Penascosa would continue to help Customs track Jennifer and her cohorts.