The West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong. Photo: Google Maps

A 34-year-old Filipina domestic worker who told a court she was forced to steal money from her employer due to inadequate food was sentenced to 12 days in jail at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The defendant, identified as JM, came to Hong Kong in 2012. She was arrested by police last month after her employer accused her of stealing a HK$500 banknote (US$63) kept in the bedroom, sunwebhk.com reported.

The court heard that when the employer asked the worker about the missing banknote, the defendant admitted that she took the money.

A defense lawyer asked for leniency, saying the defendant was the sole breadwinner for her family. She needed to support her daughter, 8, and ailing mother. She sent HK$1,500 for her daughter’s schooling and HK$2,000 to her mother to take care of the girl each month.

An officer at the Philippine Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, who talked to JM, said the woman told him she took the money because she was hungry. Her employer did not give her food or a food allowance.

Magistrate Edward Wong sentenced her to 12 days in jail, despite the fact the maid pleaded guilty and pay the money back to her employer.

Consulate officers are said to be looking at filing a complaint against the employer for starving the worker.

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