A 39-year-old Filipino asylum seeker was sentenced to five years in prison after she admitted to trafficking shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and marijuana worth more than $12,000 in Yau Ma Tei.
Deputy High Court Judge Amanda Woodcock sent Sharon V.B., a former domestic worker, to prison on September 13 after she pleaded guilty to trafficking 12.55 grams of shabu (locally known as “ice”) and 0.39 grams of marijuana.
The police said the total street value of the illegal drugs confiscated from the Filipino woman was $12,283.
The Filipino woman’s lawyer said that the illegal drugs were for Sharon and her flatmate’s “personal consumption” and not for sale, but Judge Woodcock disagreed.
“The fact is, she was caught leaving her home with all the drugs in her pockets,” Judge Woodcock said.
The prosecution said Sharon had worked as a domestic helper here in HK but her contract as terminated on May 1, 2015.
She did not leave and was jailed for overstaying. When she was released in May 2016, she applied for political asylum.
On Feb. 7, 2018, Sharon was arrested outside her flat along Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei. The police were already waiting for her when she came out of the subdivided flat and they accosted her. They then brought her back inside her room and checked her belongings.
The police found in the left pocket of her jacket resealable plastic sachets that contained the shabu and marijuana.
The officers also found an electronic weighing machine and more resealable plastic bags inside the Filipino woman’s flat.
During the police investigation, Sharon initially said that the shabu was only for her own personal consumption.
“(The defendant) had no job but she was using shabu. She said she did not use it often,” a government prosecutor said during a hearing of the case in January.
“But when she was shown the electronic weighing scale and resealable packs, she no longer answered questions from investigators. She did not say where the drugs came from or where she was taking them,” the prosecutor added.
Judge Woodcock also noted that Sharon later offered “information” to the police but investigators later concluded that it was not useful in pursuing the case.
Judge Woodcock said she did not consider the marijuana in sentencing Sharon because the amount confiscated from Sharon was negligible.
However, the judge said that there was an aggravating circumstance in her case—Sharon was an asylum seeker but she broke the law.
The judge said the Filipino woman abused Hong Kong’s hospitality since she was only allowed to stay here pending the resolution of her asylum claim and yet she still engaged in drug trafficking.
“She’s a person not normally entitled to stay here. She was only allowed to stay while her torture claim is processed,” Judge Woodcock said.
“(Drug trafficking) affects he community at large and has an impact on Hong Kong‘s reputation,” she added.
Judge Woodcock said the Court of Appeals had ruled that the jail sentences of persons who are not normally entitled to stay in HK but commit a crime could be “enhanced.”
Under HK sentencing guidelines, persons caught with 10 to 70 grams of shabu could be jailed from seven to 11 years.
But with the Court of Appeals ruling, Judge Woodcock “enhanced” the starting point for Sharon’s sentence by six months to seven years and six months (or 90 months).
With her guilty plea, Sharon was given a one-third discount and so her jail sentence was five years (or 60 months).