Filipina gets 2-year jail term after stealing almost HK$1.2M in watches, jewellery from employer

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A Filipina domestic worker pleaded guilty to stealing over HK$1.18 million in jewellery and watches in the Wan Chai Law Courts Building on Monday morning.

A Filipina domestic worker who admitted to stealing over HK$1.18 million in jewellery and watches from her employer of 24 years was sentenced to a two-year jail term on Monday, Apr. 26.

Edarlyn Emperador, 51, pleaded guilty before District Judge David John Dufton at the District Courts.

Prosecutors charged Emperador with one count of theft for stealing eight watches, nine necklaces, 12 pairs of earrings, six pendants, six rings, and eight gold ingots from her employer Irene Leung.

The worker stole the items between Apr. 6 and Aug. 6 in Leung’s flat in Celestial Heights in Ho Man Tin. But she admitted in a video interview to stealing her employer’s belongings and pawning them as early as Oct. 2019.

Emperador’s defense lawyer said she did not steal out of personal greed but due to drowning in debt from loans.

The Filipina, a mother of three, earned HK$6,000 a month. But her financial problems worsened when she had to take out loans from a loan shark in 2012 after her home was taken over by a developer, her lawyer said.

A series of other incidents, including the alleged murder of her husband and her mother’s purported cancer diagnosis, prompted Emperador to borrow over HK$250,000 from various sources to pay off her debts. This includes HK$95,000 from Leung.

Emperador’s lawyer also claimed the Filipina and her employer had agreed to take out part of the worker’s salary to pay off what she owed in installments. Leung purportedly refused to lend Emperador more money after that.

But Dufton questioned why none of these claims were brought up before police, and Emperador had instead said that she pawned the jewellery and took the money for her own expenses.

The judge also pointed out that Emperador did not pay off her loans from her employer after getting money from the pawnshop.

Leung first noticed on Apr. 3, 2020 that her gold-coloured Rolex was missing. She then discovered she also could not find  three Philippe Patek watches, a Piaget watch, a Roger Dubuis watch, a Roger Dubuis necklace with a pendant, and eight gold ingots.

Leung confronted Emperador on Apr. 6, 2o20 about the lost items. The Filipina admitted to taking them and police arrested her the next day.

The Rolex watch and six pawnshop receipts amounting to HK$148,000 were from her belongings. Police were also able to recover almost all of Leung’s pawned belongings.

Dufton set a starting point of three years imprisonment for the worker but lowered the jail term by a third due to Emperador’s guilty plea.