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Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Filipino domestic worker fined HK$800 for eating HK$100 worth of employer’s meatballs

Mildred Nilo Ladia, 40, walked free from another charge alleging she stole leather slippers and branded handbag after prosecutors decided not to pursue case

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 April, 2017, 11:24pm

A Filipino domestic worker was fined HK$800 by a court on Friday after she admitted to eating HK$100 worth of meatballs belonging to her then employer last year.

But she walked free from another charge alleging that she stole two pairs of leather slippers and an Agnes b bag after prosecutors decided not to pursue the case as the victim was reportedly in hospital.

Mildred Nilo Ladia, 40, cried as she pleaded guilty to one count of theft and denied the other.

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The Eastern Court heard that her then employer, barrister Gekko Lan Suet-ying, had already deducted HK$100 from her salary of HK$4,210 as compensation when she was arrested last year.

Now she is set to lose the opportunity to ever find employment in Hong Kong again, according to defence counsel Theresa Low.

“The consequences of criminal conviction for my client are devastating,” she told the court. “She ... will not be employable again in Hong Kong.”

Low said her client had “valued her job enormously” as she was her family’s sole breadwinner, supporting her three children, aged between seven and 20.

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The Filipino had been working for Lan since she came to Hong Kong in August 2015, after working similar jobs in Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia without incident.

On May 30 last year, Lan reported to police that some meatballs stored in the freezer at her Repulse Bay Road residence had gone missing and that Ladia had admitted to eating them despite she had not given her permission to do so.

The time of offence, according to the charge sheet, spanned from March 28 to April 10.

“My client is aware this is a breach of trust case,” Low continued. “She is remorseful.”

The defence asked for an absolute discharge or a conditional bind over. But that was rejected by magistrate Jason Wan Siu-ming, who found the nature of the offence quite serious because it involved a breach of trust.

“Tremendous trust is placed on a domestic worker by her employer,” he said in sentencing.

However, Wan said he would depart from the usual practice of imposing immediate imprisonment as he also noted that the stolen object was a food item of low monetary value and that compensation had been made.

“She probably will lose her job and the opportunity to work in Hong Kong, which is a rather severe impact,” he continued.

A fine was eventually imposed and settled through deduction from Ladia’s HK$1,000 bail.

She declined to comment outside court.