Filipina who stole HK$14.6M jewelry jailed for 4 years, 11 months

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The High Court in Admiralty (FILE PHOTO)

The Filipino domestic worker who admitted to stealing some HK$14.6 million in jewelry and watches from her former employers was sentenced to four years and 11 months imprisonment in the High Court on Tuesday.

Court of First Instance Deputy Judge Andrew Bruce meted out the sentence to Carmelita G. Nones, 47, whom he said to have violated the trust of her then-employers David Liang and his wife, Helen Frances.

Bruce also said that Carmelita also “shamelessly used” her niece, 32-year-old Maricris Nones, and her cousin, 52-year-old Cristina Alagna, to help pawn the items she stole from the Liang’s home in Deep Water Bay.

The judge added that Maricris and Cristina assisted in the recovery of the jewellery Carmelita stole even when they were not yet considered as suspects. He also pointed out neither had benefited from the money they received after pawning the stolen properties.

Some of the stolen items were recovered after the Liang couple paid around HK$1.7 million to the pawnshops.

Carmelita’s two relatives, also domestic workers in the city, were also sentenced to a year and four months in jail each for handling the stolen properties.

Among the stolen items are 40 necklaces, 68 earrings, 25 rings, 14 bracelets, 23 bangles, and two Piaget watches. Carmelita also stole two gold bars with a total weight of 237g, 31 gold coins, and pieces from Chanel valued at HK$120,000.

She stole the jewellery in several occasions between June 17, 2018 and July 27, 2019.

Police discovered the theft after chancing upon Carmelita’s suspicious pawn transactions during their regular pawnshop inspections in July 2019.

Two months after, the police went to the Liang’s house. The couple confirmed that they owned the items Carmelita pawned but denied they have given it to her.

In sentencing Carmelita, Bruce acknowledged that there was evidence to prove Carmelita’s mother was sick at the time and had died, accepting that the FDW committed the theft to pay for medical expenses.

He added it was inappropriate to refer to the victim’s impact statement by Helen Frances Liang—in which she alleged that the proceeds of the pawned goods were used to buy properties and vehicles in the Philippines.

Prosecutors earlier said the allegation stemmed from Facebook photos, which Bruce said was “unreliable” to base accusations on.

The sentence came just as Carmelita found out through a relative present in court that his husband had passed away yesterday, prompting her to cry from the court dock.