Banker's theft conviction quashed after surgical-drug revelation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2007, 12:00am
 

A top banker had her shoplifting conviction quashed yesterday on the grounds that she probably acted under the influence of a surgical drug injected a few hours earlier.


Chia Su-yen, 37, formerly vice-president of JPMorgan Chase Bank, allegedly swapped the price tags on two DVDs, valued at HK$719 in total, with cheaper ones in a branch of HMV on August 1 last year.


She was approached by security staff at the Hankow Road store when she tried to pay for the films - Law and Order Criminal Intent, originally costing HK$480, and Imagine Me and You, originally HK$239.


She had used the tags from Pride and Prejudice, HK$158, and Mail Order Wife, HK$120.


Ms Chia denied one charge of theft in Kowloon City Court in December, but was convicted and fined HK$2,500.


Barrister Kevin Patterson, acting for Ms Chia, yesterday argued in the Court of First Instance before Mrs Justice Verina Bokhary that his client had been under the influence of midazolam, which she had been injected with during surgery in Evangel Hospital to remove a skin lesion on her neck.


Mr Patterson said Ms Chia was only discharged at about 2.30pm that day and the midazolam was still in her system when she was in HMV. He said there was medical evidence to show that a person could temporarily suffer impaired judgment and loss of memory after taking the drug.


'She had no recollection of the incident and therefore no criminal intent could be established,' he said.


Mrs Justice Bokhary noted that Ms Chia had told the magistrate at the original trial that she was unable to recollect what had happened in the shop.


Quashing the conviction, the judge accepted the medical evidence presented in court and ruled that Ms Chia was probably under the influence of midazolam after she was discharged from the hospital.


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