A DOMESTIC helper who overstayed in Hongkong for four years and was jailed for a year had her sentence reduced on appeal in the High Court to allow for her immediate release. Desiree Vakili, 36, had a tearful explanation which moved Mr Justice Bewley to say that it was an extraordinary story which she should have told the magistrate when he sentenced her in Western Court in December last year. Vakili said she did not expect a prison term especially when she had surrendered to the police. The court heard that she entered Hongkong in 1986 and began working. In 1988, her best friend asked her to lend her passport to her for use as security for a bank loan. The friend borrowed $8,000 and had deposited her own passport as security. But she needed to go to the Philippines to buy land and asked Vakili to deposit her passport in exchange for hers. She promised Vakili that as soon as she returned from the Philippines she would deposit her passport and Vakili would get hers back. Vakili agreed to help. But the friend never returned. A few months later, Vakili was dismissed by her employer but could not return to Manila as her passport was with the bank and she could not repay the debt. She said she needed to return to Manila because her only child, a 10-year-old girl, was to have an operation soon. The girl suffers from cerebral palsy and is looked after by Vakili's mother. Vakili's husband abandoned her when the child was born. Vakili wept uncontrollably when Mr Justice Bewley said he would allow her appeal and reduce her sentence so she could be freed immediately.