An Indonesian domestic worker who served the household of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong stood in court to face the four theft charges filed against her on Monday.
According to the charge sheets, Ms Parti Liyani, 44, allegedly stole items worth more than S$50,000 belonging to Mr Liew, and three of his family members; his son and daughter-in-law, Mr Karl Liew and Ms Heather Lim Mei Ern, and his daughter, Ms Liew Cheng May.
Mr Liew is also CapitaLand Group's founding president and its former chief executive officer.
The alleged theft was said to have taken place on 28 Oct 2016. Ms Parti was fired on the same day by her employer, Mr Liew, and was given two hours to pack before being sent back to Indonesia. Mr Liew then reported the alleged thefts two days later on 30 Oct.
Ms Parti was arrested at Changi Airport on Dec 2 that year, when she returned to Singapore.
Ms Parti pleaded not guilty to the charges against her and defended herself in the charge sheets that she had picked up many of the items listed outside the house which the family had thrown away.
Assistant Superintendent Tang Ru Long was the first witness called to the stand. He was the investigating officer (IO) who has been largely involved in the investigation of the case since the police report was filed. He had initially stood in for another IO to cover the case in 2016 but had taken over the case since 13 March 2017 after the IO was transferred out of the department.
Under the intense cross-examination by the defence lawyer, Anil N Balachandani of I.R.B Law LLP, ASP Tang revealed a couple of troubling facts of the case.
It was revealed that ASP Tang did not verify the contents of the police report filed on 30 Oct before he filed the warrant of arrest for Ms Parti on 31 Oct 2016.
He did not make any attempt to check with the police officer who took Mr Liew's statement and he did not drop in to the house till 3 Dec 2016.
Mr Anil said, "So you have not visited the scene, you have let the complaintant make a police report, let the complainant say what he wants, and you then did not secure the box from the complainant, would that be safe to say?" ASP Tang did not give a clear answer.
After much probing, ASP Tang noted that the police did not secure the boxes and Mr Karl Liew relocated the items from 49 Chancery Lane to 39 Chancery Lane where he is staying.
ASP Tan had only taken photographs of the alleged stolen items and did not seize them as evidence of the offence.
The alleged thefts took place at Mr Liew’s landed property at 49 Chancery Lane. However, some of the items were subsequently relocated to Mr Karl Liew's residence at 39 Chancery Lane. a former private banker and undischarged bankrupt.
During DPP's examination of ASP Tang, he told the court that the family were allowed to hold onto the items so as not to revictimise them by depriving them of their belongings.
However, Mr Anil grilled ASP Tan on why did he allow the complainants to hold onto the items when he had the powers to do so under section 35 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In response, ASP Tang tried to say he did not allow or disallowed them to do anything.
Mr Anil then asked him if it is possible that anything could have happened to the items that the accused that have been charged with theft. ASP Tang said, "Correct."
It was revealed in court that the items were only fully seized on 18 April just six days before the trial on Monday without a clear explanation as to why the police allowed the items to be held on by the complainants.
ASP Tang also revealed that he did not verify the value of the items himself. The value of the items had been informed by the complainants.
According to the charge sheets, Ms Parti had allegedly stolen:
- a damaged Gerald Genta watch with a broken strap valued at S$25,000,
- two white iPhone 4s with accessories valued at S$2,056,
- 120 pieces of male clothing valued at S$150 each,
- a S$500 blanket,
- three S$100 bedsheets,
- a S$150 Philips DVD player,
- S$300 worth of kitchenware and utensils,
- a S$250 black Gucci wallet,
- a S$250 black Braun Buffel wallet
- a S$50 Helix watch.
- a S$1,000 Prada bag
- a pair of S$500 Gucci sunglasses with red stains on them
- a S$1,000 Pioneer DVD player
- two S$200 Longchamp bags
- a Vacheron Constantin watch with unknown value
- a S$75 Swatch watch
- S$775 worth of jewellery and fashion accessories, and
- a S$250 pair of Gucci sunglasses.
Under the questioning by Mr Anil, ASP Tang shared that he had taken the allegedly stolen Vacheron Constantin watch at a shop in ION Orchard for it to be inspected and the shop revealed that it was a counterfeit.
When asked why was this material fact of the watch not reflected in the charge sheet, deputy public prosecutor, Marcus Foo stood up to counter Mr Anil's question by saying that it is an unfair question. Mr Foo said even if the item is not original, ASP Tang did not state on the charge sheet that it was not an original.
The judge, Olivia Low agreed with Mr Foo and Mr Anil had to drop the question.
Subsequent questioning by Mr Anil revealed that ASP Tang could not ascertain the value of the items alleged to be stolen goods as shops cannot verify if they are authentic.
Ms Parti had been working in Singapore since 1996. She was employed by Mr Liew for eight years before she was abruptly dismissed in 2016.
She has been waiting for her trial to begin since she was released on bail on 4 Dec 2016.
If convicted, Ms Parti could be jailed for up to seven years and fined.