The domestic helper working for the family of Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong was found guilty of stealing items worth more than $30,000 from his household on Wednesday (20 March).
Parti Liyani, a 45-year-old Indonesian, had been working for Liew’s household from March 2007 until October 2016, when she left Singapore. She had been paid $600 monthly towards the end of her employment.
In a trial in the State Courts which began last year, the maid contested four charges of theft for stealing valuables from Liew, his son Karl Liew Kai Ling, his wife Heather Lim Mei Ern and his sister May Liew Cheng.
The stolen items included a DVD player valued at $1,000, two Longchamp bags worth $400, a Gerald Genta watch worth $10,000, two white iPhone 4 smartphones with accessories valued at $2,056, 115 pieces of clothing valued at $150 each, and a $500 blanket.
Karl had testified that his father tasked him to let Parti go on 28 October 2016. After conveying the instructions to the maid, she had packed three sealed boxes and insisted on having Karl ship them to Indonesia for her.
Karl initially agreed but later opened the boxes with other family members and found items that belonged to the family.
Liew later made a police report and Parti was arrested upon her return to Singapore on 2 December 2016.
According to Karl, his father had suspected Parti of stealing from the family for some two to three years before deciding to send her home.
Parti’s lawyer, Anil Balchandani, had argued during the trial that the items Parti had allegedly stolen had been given to her or purchased by her, or that she had taken discarded items, or that some items found in the boxes were not packed by her.
The defence claimed that the Liew family conspired to bring the allegations against Parti in order to prevent her from returning to Singapore to file a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower as Parti had been deployed to work outside of the household.
In finding Parti guilty, District Judge Olivia Low said she found no reason why the Liew family or the family’s driver would conspire to frame Parti for theft, especially after having employed her for a number of years.
“They had in fact compensated her for the termination and was even willing to pay for rate shipping to get her items back to Indonesia,” said DJ Low.
Parti’s “modus operandi” had been to take various items from different family members thinking that they would go unnoticed.
“I further note that despite having returned to Indonesia for more than a month, (Parti) never showed interest in finding out why she had not received the three jumbo boxes yet if those items in the boxes were truly hers,” the judge added.
The judge amended one of the four charges, specifically on the items stolen from Karl: lowering the number of stolen items to 115 from 120, and the value of a watch to $10,000 from $25,000, and removing two wallets from the list of stolen items.
She explained that there was some reasonable doubt whether Karl owned five of the items or were in his possession.
Parti is expected to be sentenced on 25 March.