The former domestic worker of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong was sentenced to 26 months of jail on Mon (25 Mar) after being found guilty on four counts of theft last week.
Citing Umaroh v PP  SGDC 265 in her written sentencing remarks, District Judge Olivia Low stressed that the principle of deterrence against the theft of any property belonging to the employers of domestic workers should also, as demonstrated in Parti’s case, extend to that of the employer’s family members.
Judge Low highlighted that “is in the public interest” for the courts to uphold such deterrence “through the imposition of appropriate punishment”.
Noting that Parti was a first-time offender and that the items stated in the charge sheets have already been recovered, Judge Low nonetheless pointed out the “sheer number of items stolen”, the “high value” of several of the items, and “the prolonged period over which the thefts took place” as aggravating factors.
She maintained that the aggravating factors were a reflection of Parti’s “greed, and not need”, rejecting the defence’s claim of such being Parti’s “recycling” or “up-cycling” habit.
Judge Low added that “the manner in which the defence conducted cross-examination of the Liew family, and the number of irrelevant issues raised during the trial showed a complete lack of remorse” on Parti’s part.
A pre-trial conference will be held next month for a pending charge involving items allegedly obtained fraudulently, which included ez-link cards and wallets.
Judge Low also raised Parti’s bail to S$15,000 from S$10,000.
Defence lawyer Anil Balchandani told the court that Parti wishes to appeal against both the conviction and sentence imposed against her, seeking a global sentence of 10 weeks’ imprisonment.
The prosecution, on the other hand, is seeking a global sentence of at least three years for Parti.
Parti, who was previously employed by the Liew household for almost 10 years, could have originally been jailed for a maximum of seven years – and be fined in addition to the prison sentence – for every count of theft.
No reason “why the Liew family and their driver would conspire to frame the accused for the theft”: Judge Low
On 20 Mar, Parti was found guilty at the State Courts of stealing items allegedly worth over S$30,000 from the Liew family.
Judge Low dismissed Parti’s lawyer’s assertion that the domestic worker was framed by Mr Liew’s family.
The judge added that did not see “any reason why the Liew family and (their) driver Robin would conspire to frame the accused for the theft, especially when they had employed her for a number of years”.
She noted that her wage has been increased from $300 to $600 over the span of time she had been working with them. Parti was in-charge of cleaning and cooking meals for the entire family.
The judge added, “They had in fact compensated her for the termination and was even willing to pay for the shipping of her items back to Indonesia.
“On the contrary, the modus operandi of the accused was to take a variety of items from different family members thinking that these would go unnoticed by them”, Judge Low was reported as saying.
The defence had reportedly argued that the items Parti was accused of stealing had been given to her, found in rubbish bins, or that misplaced by the owners.
In addition to the previous claim, Mr Balchandani argued that the domestic helper was not responsible for some of the items packed in the boxes, and that two of the Liew family’s drivers had assisted Parti in packing the boxes she had planned to courier to her home country.
Earlier during the hearing, the Judge had rejected the admission of the MOM report filed by the accused about the alleged deployment of her services at places other than the registered addressed for her employment after prosecution voiced their objections.
Karl Liew, Mr Liew’s son, tasked to terminate Parti’s employment, ordered Parti to pack up
Previously, TOC reported on 24 Apr last year according to Karl’s testimony in court, he was tasked by Mr Liew to terminate Parti’s services, and was asked to send her off to the airport on 28 Oct 2016.
Following his father’s instructions, Karl asked Parti to pack her belongings in a couple of hours, in time for a flight booked for her on the same day.
Parti initially declined Karl’s request, but eventually relented and had asked for more time to sort out her items, as she did not want to send all the items back to Indonesia.
Consequently, she was promised that the family will send the items back on her behalf.
Upon Karl’s instructions, the driver obtained boxes for Parti to store her items, after which she packed her belongings and items which she had stored over the years into three sealed boxes whilst unsupervised.
A bag of old clothes, however, was left behind.
Karl also claimed in his testimony that he had initially agreed to send the boxes after the employment agent convinced him to do so.
However, he did not proceed to do so after opening the boxes with other family members and allegedly finding items that belonged to the family.
Mr Liew later filed a police report two days after Parti had left Singapore.
However, during the hearing, a video by Karl’s wife showed that Mdm Teo said that she wanted to sell the items to the karung guni, and the family members did not mention anything of their items being found amongst the items from Parti’s boxes spread on the floor.
Investigating officer “did not verify” police report, did not secure boxes containing allegedly stolen items: Defence lawyer
It was also discovered during the hearing on 24 Apr last year that Assistant Superintendent Tang Ru Long, the investigating officer (IO) primarily involved in the investigation of the case since the police report was filed, “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” during a cross-examination by Mr Anil.
Additionally, ASP Tang did not make any attempt to check the contents of the report with the police officer who took Mr Liew’s statement, and he did not visit the house where the theft had allegedly took place throughout the investigations, until 3 Dec 2016.
“So you have not visited the scene, you have let the complainant 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?” probed Mr Anil, to which ASP Tang was initially reluctant to respond before admitting that the police did not secure the boxes containing the allegedly stolen items.
ASP Tan had also only taken photographs of the allegedly stolen items, and did not seize them as evidence of the offence.
It was also noted that Karl had relocated the items from 49 Chancery Lane, his landed property and the alleged crime scene, to 39 Chancery Lane, his place of residence.
He only told the court during the court-examination that the family were allowed to hold onto the items so as not to revictimise them by depriving them of their belongings, adding that he had neither prohibited nor allowed the Liew family to retain the items allegedly stolen by Parti, despite having the authority to do so under Section 5 of the Criminal Procedure, as pointed out by Mr Anil.
It was also revealed in court that the items were only fully seized on 18 April without a clear explanation as to why the police had allowed the complainants to retain the items.
Charges amended to remove certain items due to judge’s doubt over Karl’s ownership of items
According to the original 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.
However, Judge Low had made amendments to one of the four charges by removing specifically the items stolen from Karl from Parti’s initial charges, including:
- Lowering the number of stolen items to 115 from 120;
- Lowering the value of the Gerald Genta watch from $25,000 to $10,000; and
- Removing two wallets from the list of stolen items.
According to the defence’s expert, the Gerald Genta watch is worth only $600. The prosecutor did not call for any expert assessment on the value of the watch.
The judge reasoned that the amendments were made, as there was some reasonable doubt regarding Karl’s ownership or possession of five of the items.
ASP Tang also revealed in the hearing on 24 Apr last year that he did not verify the value of the items himself, and that it was the complainants who had given the value of the items.
Subsequent questioning by Mr Anil also exposed that ASP Tang was not able to ascertain the value of the items, as shops cannot verify if they are authentic.
During the cross-examination of Karl, the judge rejected the admission of the court judgement involving Karl where the presiding judge of that particular case commented Karl “to be a dishonest and evasive witness, whose
evidence was riddled with inconsistencies”, after the prosecution raised their objections.