A pregnant former official of the US Consulate-General in Hong Kong who swindled more than $1 million out of the consulate was jailed for two years yesterday. District Court judge Fergal Sweeney said he would not allow a defendant to escape a custodial sentence for such serious offences because she was pregnant. Five months pregnant Peggy Chung Sau-chun, 35, former procurement supervisor, had pleaded guilty to 18 counts of forgery on May 12. Her defence counsel, Raymond Yu, repeatedly asked for the court's leniency in his mitigation. 'Please, in view of the whole circumstances, please consider giving her a final chance. She will treasure it for the rest of her life. You may never see her again in the future,' Mr Yu said. But Judge Sweeney wondered why the defendant, who was charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in November last year, had been childless in her 11 years of marriage but chose to become pregnant 'when she knew she was going to face a trial', and with a husband who later left her. The court heard her husband had borrowed from loansharks in Macau and since August 1996, Chung had made false invoices, cashing them in from the consulate to repay his loan. Chung claimed $1,112,316 from the consulate and the money was deposited into her husband's bank account. 'These loanshark stories are often heard in courts,' Judge Sweeney said. 'It is wrong to settle one criminal activity with another. Far better, the defendant should simply report to the police and let them deal with the loansharks. 'Some people will think that this [getting pregnant] is a cynical attempt to manipulate the court. 'Fortunately, there are facilities in the Correctional Services Department for prisoners to give birth in the prison,' Judge Sweeney said. The judge also said Chung could now settle down and relax as the trial had ended and her anxiety was gone. Her priority now would be 'a safe birth'. He had considered that the swindling, which spanned a period of three years until the consulate discovered it in 1998, could not be counted as a one-off offence, but gave credit for her guilty pleas and clear previous criminal record. Judge Sweeney also ordered her to make a $100,000 compensation to the consulate. In addition, the judge also made special accommodation for Chung to receive psychological counselling in the prison.