Filipina helper who stole HK$14m jewelry sees jail term extended

A Filipina domestic helper who stole 200 jewelry pieces from the home of former executive director of New World Development David Liang Chong-hou, saw her jail term extended to six years and four months on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old helper Carmelita Galay Nones worked for Liang's family. She was originally jailed for four years and 11 months on six counts of theft, for stealing around 200 pieces of jewelry worth over HK$14 million at Liang's residence in Deep Water Bay between June 2018 and September 2019.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) then filed an appeal against the original sentence as it believed the jail term was too short for Nones' crime.

The appeal application was handled by Justice of Appeal Kevin Zervos, Maggie Poon Man-kay, and Anthea Pang Po-kam in the High Court on Tuesday morning.

The plaintiff was the Secretary for Justice while Nones was listed the respondent.

After hearing from both sides, the three-judge panel ruled that the trial judge didn't hand down a sentence that matches Nones' criminal liability and the severe nature of her crime, and mistakenly deducted her jail term.

The lawyer representing the DOJ said the trial judge started the jail term too leniently and ignored other factors, including the huge amount of property involved in this case and Nones committed the crime for an extended period.

The defense for Nones then pointed out that the trial judge accepted that Nones stole the jewelry to raise money for her sick mother and the prosecution didn't challenged the judge's decision at that time.

A written judgment will be released within two weeks.

The jewelry stolen by Nones included 38 necklaces, 23 bangles, 40 pairs of earrings, 16 bracelets, two gold bars weighing 237g in total, four luxury watches, 25 rings, 31 gold coins, some cash and other accessories.

Her niece, Maricris Galay Nones, 32, and another helper Cristina Noble Alagna, 51, pawned the stolen jewelry, got millions of HK dollars and gave the money back to her.

The duo was jailed for one year and four months after they pleaded guilty to four and six counts of handling stolen goods, respectively.
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