Hair-loss phobia leads to jail

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am

A bank customer service assistant who stole HK$355,000 for hair treatment because he was terrified of balding was jailed for 11 months yesterday. Alex Chan Choi-kei, 36, who appeared in Eastern Court with a full head of hair, had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of stealing the money from a 53-year-old housewife's account.

Magistrate William Ng Sing-wai rejected a plea to impose a community service order, saying Chan had committed a serious breach of his employer's trust. But he cut the term from 24 months because Chan had pleaded guilty, had paid back the money and had been diagnosed with psychological problems. 'It is not this fear of hair loss alone that drove you to commit the offences,' the magistrate said. 'Your phobia is one of the manifestations of your psychological problems rooted in low self-esteem.'

Medical reports said Chan had struggled with the fear of losing his hair, had difficulty dealing with others and suffered low self-esteem.

He had stolen more than he needed for the hair treatment, which cost HK$20,000 a time and totalled HK$130,000. Mr Ng said Chan paid for it by stealing money from his family, then took the customer's money to repay them. He was working at the DBS bank in Central when he stole HK$355,326 from a dormant account between May and July 2004.