The former manager of a travel agency who had been on the run for more than three years was jailed yesterday for stealing about HK$330,000 from his company. Deputy Judge Merinda Chow Yin-chu sent Philip Cho Chun-man to jail for 15 months and one week after he pleaded guilty in District Court to one count of theft. Cho, 48, was arrested at Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint on September 30. He had fled to the mainland in May 2006. His lawyer, Roderick Yeung Kam-yuen, said Cho had financial difficulties because he was not paid for five months. He said Cho, who earned HK$9,000 a month, lost the money he stole gambling. Prosecutor Betty Fu said Cho worked at Kwok Queen International Tour on Nelson Street in Mong Kok. In March 2006, Cho was asked to arrange for a replacement for the lock to the drawers where the money was kept, and on two occasions in May 2006, two of Cho's colleagues put cash into two locked drawers. On May 28, one of the colleagues found that money from one drawer was missing, and reported it to her boss, who also found that money in a safe and in another drawer was missing. After Cho was absent from work and his boss was unable to reach him, the boss called police. Fu said travel records showed Cho went to Macau on May 27, and returned to Hong Kong the next morning. About an hour later, he left the city again via Lo Wu border crossing. Cho later told police he went to the travel agency at 730am on May 28 and took the money. In sentencing, the judge said the offences were serious and involved a degree of planning because Cho chose to commit them on a Sunday when fewer people were around. 'Obviously the building was quiet, and the defendant did not expect anyone to return as the shop only opened at 8.30am,' she said. Cho was given a one-third discount of his jail term for his guilty plea and another three weeks were cut for the time he was detained by mainland police.