44 months for Pinay over fake banknotes

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The District Court in Wan Chai

THE District Court has sentenced a 24-year-old Filipina to 44 months in prison for her involvement in an attempt to counterfeit Hong Kong banknotes.

Deputy District Judge Lily Wong on Aug. 1 rejected S.J. Legaspi’s plea to give her a suspended sentence, saying it would be “inappropriate” owing to the seriousness of the offense.

“The defendant’s role in this incident was not minor,” the judge said.

During the sentencing, while Legaspi was in the dock, she could be seen looking at her boyfriend, who was in the gallery, and shaking her head. The Filipina was also seen wiping tears from her eyes.
Legaspi was on July 12 convicted of the offense of “having custody of counterfeit materials” after trial.

She previously pleaded guilty to the charges of possession of dangerous drugs, and possession of apparatus fit as an inhaling device.

Police officers found 0.60 grams of ice or methamphetamine hydrochloride in Legaspi’s bedroom she shared with her boyfriend when their flat in Kennedy Town was searched in 2015.

For the offense of counterfeiting banknotes, Legaspi was sentenced to three and a half years, and for the other two charges she was given a jail term of six months each, with four months being served concurrently and two months to be served continuously, bringing the defendant’s total jail term to 44 months.

In convicting Legaspi, Judge Wong said the defendant’s allegations about her being unable to understand what was said to her and unaware of her rights during a video recording interview conducted by police were unbelievable.

Legaspi was also provided an interpreter so she could understand the caution statement.

“The video recording interview was played in court and the defendant was willing and volunteered information [about the equipment and materials seized from her home],” said Judge Wong.

The magistrate dismissed the evidence given by the defense witness, the defendant’s boyfriend, who said he only used the equipment, and the other gadgets to study the patterns of various banknotes because he was interested in skin tattoos.

However, Judge Wong said “one could see the sophisticated nature” of the patterns to “such minute details”.

Mitigating, Legaspi’s lawyer told the court his client had no prior conviction record, and at the time of her arrest, she was a “regular consumer of ice”, but said she had been clean since then.

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