FDH sent to jail for stealing cash from employer’s luggage

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Kowloon City Law Courts

ALTHOUGH she returned all the money she stole from her employer, she was still sent to prison as the offense constituted “breach of trust”.

Kowloon City Principal Magistrate Peter Law on Oct. 31 sentenced R.D. Bautista to 12 weeks in prison, but reduced it to eight weeks after the Filipina’s guilty plea.

Judge Law further discounted two weeks after hearing that Bautista paid back 1,290 Hong Kong dollars, 100 US dollars,  and 2,000 renminbi to her employer.

The prosecutor told the court that the money was given to the police and that because the other cash that were stolen were previously recovered by the defendant’s employer, the latter suffered no loss.

The prosecution said the defendant, who was employed by the victim since April, used a pen to force open a luggage of her employer which contained 5,700 renminbi, 7,000 Hong Kong dollars, and 400 US dollars. The luggage was in the employer’s bedroom.

Since the employer, surnamed Lee, found that she had lost money at home a few times, she installed a CCTV camera inside the bedroom.

On Sept. 25, the employer found that only 3,700 renminbi, 4,000 HKD, and 300 USD were left in the luggage. In total, 2,000 renminbi, 3,000 HKD, and 100 USD were missing.

Upon viewing the CCTV recording, the employer found that Bautista used a pen to force open the luggage and took out the plastic bag containing the cash and then took the banknotes.

The defendant then put back the plastic bag inside the luggage and then left the room.

The employer reported the incident to the police and Bautista was arrested on the same day. Out of the stolen cash, 1,710 HKD was recovered from the defendant.

Under arrest and caution, the defendant admitted that she took the amount of 4,000 renminbi, and 2,000 HKD from the luggage and remitted the amount to the Philippines.

Mitigating, the Filipina’s duty lawyer said the defendant had two sons, aged 21 and 19, and one daughter, 13, in the Philippines. The defendant was sending all her children to school, the lawyer said.

As Bautista was separated from her husband, it was her younger sister who was taking care of her children.

“She came here to Hong Kong to earn money so she could support her children as her husband makes no contribution.

“At the time of the offense, the defendant needed money as her older son was in the hospital after a car accident. Her son could not be discharged from the hospital because of unpaid hospital fees,” the lawyer said.

He added that the defendant was remorseful and hoped for a lenient sentence so she could go back to the Philippines soon to be with her children.

The lawyer also said the employer suffered no loss as the defendant paid back the amount that was missing.

However, Judge Law said the defendant “used a pen” to force open the luggage and steal the cash.

“In the present case, you used a pen to force open the victim’s luggage…so you committed the offense not just because of momentary greed as the money was not just left lying on a desk and this involved breach of trust  because your employer trusted you,” Judge Law said.

The magistrate, however, said her guilty plea and paying back what she stole showed Bautista’s remorse, thus the discounts in her jail term.



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