LONDON - A Filipina house cleaner pleaded guilty to stealing more than £13,000 (S$28,000) worth of jewelry from her employer's mansion but was given a suspended sentence due to mitigating factors.
Maylene Miguel, 38 years old, began working for David and Ulrike Levin at their multimillion-pound villa in Kensington, West London, in 2012. Mr. and Mrs. Levin, 66 and 70 years old respectively, have been living at the house in Kensington since the 1980s. Miguel was employed to do cleaning and ironing on Tuesdays and Fridays, amounting to seven hours of work per week.
According to Isleworth Crown Court, the Levins grew suspicious of Miguel when the wages of their other employees began to go missing, and after she asked the couple's daughter for a £6,000 loan.
After the wage money went missing, the Levins left a unique diamond ring in their bedroom as bait. When they returned from holiday in May to find that the ring had disappeared, they realised that Miguel was the culprit.
Miguel had sent them a text message claiming that she was unable to work her normal shift, but when the couple came home they discovered that she had stolen the ring.
An investigation around pawnshops in the Kensington area revealed that Miguel had repeatedly stolen and sold over £13,000 worth of family heirloom and trinkets during the past three years of her employ under the Levins.
Following Miguel's arrest, she insisted that she had "always been loyal." However, local pawnbrokers identified the jewelry that Miguel had sold to them after stealing them from her employers. Later the news emerged that Miguel had been given a conditional discharge for theft while working for another employer in 2009.
Earlier this week, Miguel pleaded guilty to theft. She was given a six-month suspended sentence after a judge took pity on her because she has a young daughter.
Gareth Thomas, defending Miguel, said: "She was working loyally for this couple before she succumbed to temptation. A niece of hers was receiving treatment for leukemia in the Philippines. There was an element of desperation in this offence, which may provide some mitigation."
Thomas further argued that jailing Miguel would have a "devastating impact" on her seven-year-old daughter's wellbeing.
Judge Aidan Marron QC told Miguel: "I think you fully appreciate that this is a very serious example of offending where there has been a serious breach of trust. It is the sort of behaviour which inevitably casts suspicion on other people. You have an innocent child to look after, consider yourself fortunate, don't come back here again."
In addition to her suspended sentence, Miguel has been ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £270 compensation to the Levin family.