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West Kowloon Magistracy

A Filipino domestic worker in Discovery Bay was fined $4,000 for failing to pay for some grocery items at a supermarket.

She said she forgot to pay partly because she was thinking of her boyfriend, who had lost his job.

West Kowloon Deputy Magistrate Ng Mee-wah found Rica E.Q. guilty of theft on October 4 and ordered her to pay a fine of $4,000 for the stolen grocery items worth $327.

“I am satisfied that the prosecution proved the elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The defendant is guilty as charged,” Judge Ng said in her verdict.

“You have one month to raise the money,” she added.

Rica was shopping for groceries at the Fusion supermarkert on the ground floor of Discovery Bay Plaza when the incident happened at around 2:10 p.m. on June 18.

The helper had already paid for her own personal items when she again shopped for the dinner of her employer.

She took a bag of pork, worth $227.5, and six other grocery items but, instead of putting them in a grocery cart, she put them in her own recyclable bag together with the other items she had bought earlier for her own use.

She then walked out of the supermarket without paying and was stopped by a store employee who had noticed her earlier and was actually watching her.

Rica said she forgot to pay for the items because she had to meet her friend outside and she was also “confused” because her boyfriend had lost his job.

She offered to pay for the items but supermarket officials called the police and Rica was arrested.

In her defense, Rica’s employer of 13 years testified in court that she was a trustworthy domestic worker. The helper also said that it was her practice to put grocery items on her recyclable bag.

However, the judge ruled that it was “plain unreasonable” to put unpaid grocery items in one’s recyclable bag and mix them with other items that were already paid.

With her conviction after trial for this case of theft, Rica now has a criminal record here in Hong Kong, which could be a reason for the Immigration Department to reject future working visa applications.