Student arrested for stealing $7,000 from Pinay in HK church

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North Point

THE police arrested a 20-year-old film student after he stole at least $7,000 from a Filipino woman at St. Jude’s Church in North Point. But she was not his only victim.

Defendant Harry James S. was arrested for stealing from M.S. Florentino in July and, the following month, from a food expo worker at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) in Wan Chai.

“I plead guilty,” the defendant told Eastern Presiding Magistrate Peter Law on September 18.

The first incident happened at around 5 p.m. at St. Jude’s Church, which is popular with Filipinos, on July 29, a Sunday.

A security guard of the church saw the defendant loitering at around 4:35 p.m. inside the church compound and, at around 5:03 p.m., he entered a room on the second floor and stayed there for five minutes.

It turned out that the Filipina, apparently a church volunteer, had left her belongings inside the room and the defendant took her wallet.

The guard accosted the defendant after he got out of the room and found the Filipina’s wallet tucked on his waistband. The prosecutor said it contained more than $7,000 and two Philippine identification cards.

“The defendant had studied kindergarten there and visited because (he and his family) are leaving Hong Kong. He felt nostalgic and so he had a look around,” the defendant’s lawyer said.

“There is no evidence to show that (the theft) was premeditated and the stolen item was returned to the owner,” she added.

The defendant was allowed to post bail after his arrest but, on August 20, he again struck while working as a part-time staff member during a food expo at the HKEC.

The second victim, another staff worker, had left his wallet which contained $31,000 in cash inside his rucksack.

Based on this information, the police searched the defendant’s house and recovered $22,370. The student also admitted to the crime.

“He has expressed remorse and his month-long stay in prison has been a shock to him.  He regrets the breakdown of his ties between him and his parents and friends,” the defense lawyer said, adding that he was ready to compensate his second victim.

Judge Law called for probation and community service reports before sentencing him.