Domestic helper found not guilty of stealing S$34,000 of items from Changi Airport Group chairman

The High Court found that the family had improper motives for mounting the allegations against their domestic helper of nine years.

Andrew Koay | September 04, 2020, 06:51 PM

Finding that the family of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong had "improper motives" for lodging a police report against their domestic helper, Singapore's High Court acquitted Parti Liyani of stealing from her former employers.

The Sept 4. ruling was the culmination of a four-year saga that started when Parti was dismissed by her employer in October 2016, according to court documents seen by Mothership.

After her dismissal, the family lodged a police report against Parti and accused her of stealing more than S$34,000 worth of items from them.

These items included a Gerald Genta watch worth S$10,000, 115 pieces of clothing worth S$150 each, and two iPhones valued at more than S$2,000.

The items were allegedly found in three boxes that Parti and the family's chauffeurs packed.

These boxes were meant to be filled with Parti's belongings and shipped back to Indonesia for her after she left Singapore.

Parti who had worked for the Liew's family from 2007 to 2016 had initially been convicted of the offence and sentenced to two years two months in jail in March 2019, according to Yahoo News.

Conviction overturned

However, she appealed the decision with her lawyer Anil Balchandiani positing that the Indonesian domestic helper had been framed by her former employers in an attempt to stop her from lodging a complaint against the family.

The defence lawyer — who represented Parti pro bono — said that his client had been told to clean the office and home of Liew's son, Karl.

In setting aside her conviction, Justice Chan Seng Onn said he observed there to be a mishandling of the supposedly stolen items by the Liew family in the five weeks before they were photographed and seized by the police.

Chan noted there was a lack of evidence that the items had actually been found in the three boxes as the family claimed.

Furthermore, the judge found that the family members had improper motives for mounting the allegations against Parti.

In his judgement of the appeal, Chan also stated his doubt regarding Karl.

The younger Liew had claimed that various items of female clothing and accessories allegedly stolen belonged to him.

This included a black dress, that Karl later said was a mistake when confronted with it in court.

On another occasion, he testified that he had a habit of cross-dressing.

"Karl’s dishonesty on the stand was plainly evident from his testimony," said the judge.

According to The Straits Times, Liew had previously been held by the High Court to be liable for the S$6.5 million in investments he had guaranteed a former client.

"Justice has prevailed"

The Straits Times reported that when the verdict was delivered on Sep. 4, Parti turned emotional and embraced her lawyer Anil and staff from the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

She had stayed at HOME's shelter throughout the last four years after her arrest on Dec. 2, 2016, as her case was heard in Singapore's courts.

In a statement posted to their website, the NGO said that "justice had prevailed".

They also took the opportunity to highlight the systemic difficulties that migrant workers faced when wrongly accused.

"Such migrant workers are left waiting in a foreign country while investigations are ongoing, without any indication of the length of such investigations," they wrote.

As they are often not allowed to work, migrant workers may become reliant on NGOs like HOME to provide them shelter, food, and financial assistance.

"We also provided her a bailor for the sum of S$15,000, an option which is not available for most migrant workers accused of crimes. During this time, they are also not allowed to leave the country, and have no means of seeing their families back home."

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Top image from Parti Liyani's Facebook and Ecosperity