SINGAPORE: A 45-year-old Indonesian maid was found guilty on Wednesday (Mar 20) of stealing more than S$30,000 worth of items from the family of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong.
The conviction was handed down by District Judge Olivia Low after a 19-day trial that spanned months.
The judge denied the defence their request to recall five witnesses in response to an amendment of one of the four theft charges the maid faced.
Parti Liyani had worked for the Liew household between March 2007 and late October 2016, with her salary increasing from S$300 per month to S$600 per month before she was fired on suspicion of theft over the years.
She was found guilty of stealing an assortment of items including: Two bags valued at S$200 each belonging to Mr Liew; watches and more than 100 pieces of clothing belonging to his son Karl Liew; jewellery owned by his daughter May Liew; and a Prada bag and Gucci sunglasses belonging to Karl’s wife.
Over the course of the trial, the defence had argued that the items Parti was accused of stealing had been given to her, that she had retrieved some items discarded in bins, or that the items had been misplaced by their owners. Parti also claimed that some items had not been packed by her in the boxes - two of the Liew family’s drivers had helped her in the packing of the items to be couriered to Indonesia.
The judge said that she 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”.
“They had in fact compensated her for the termination and was even willing to pay for the shipping of her items back to Indonesia,” she said. “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.”
She noted that even though Parti had returned to Indonesia for more than a month after being fired, she “never showed interest” in finding out why she had not received three large boxes that she had left behind with the Liews to be shipped to her.
The stolen items were found inside the boxes.
“Her purpose in returning to Singapore was not to follow up on the jumbo boxes, but to find new employment as evidenced by her statement to the police,” said the judge.
She said she found the prosecution’s witnesses “largely credible and consistent”, with the victims able to identify the items that belonged to them and what they did with it. She noted that a potential witness the defence wanted to call had claimed that she received “harassing” legal letters from the defence, and that Parti had giggled at Karl during a civil hearing, which he found intimidating.
DEFENCE TAKES ISSUE WITH JUDGE AMENDING CHARGE
On Wednesday, the judge announced that she would be amending one of the four charges.
She made three amendments to the second charge regarding items stolen from Karl Liew, reducing the number of stolen items from 120 to 115, removing two wallets from the list and reducing the value of a watch from S$25,000 to S$10,000.
Explaining her decision, she said that there was some reasonable doubt as to whether five of the items belonged to Karl, or were in his possession. These were: A blue corduroy shirt, a cream polo shirt, a red blouse, a black dress and a quilt.
After the trial the judge also said that Karl was unable to remember information regarding the wallets Parti was accused of stealing, and that there was no evidence he had used them.
She said she was reducing the value of the watch after hearing evidence during the trial.
Defence lawyer Anil Balchandani said he wished to recall witnesses after hearing that the charge was amended, as he wished to show that Karl was "a liar", and that they had focused on the five items which were now dropped from the charge.
The judge dismissed his application to recall witnesses, saying she did not find it necessary, and that it was "an attempt to further delay the trial and frustrate justice".
Parti faces a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine per charge. She is set to be sentenced on Monday.