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Maid fined 10 times value of stolen food packs

07 November 2017

Merogenia was sentenced in Shatin court
By Vir B. Lumicao

For failing to pay for nine grocery items she took in a supermarket, a Filipina domestic worker was convicted by a Shatin Court of theft and fined $2,000, ten times the amount of the foodstuff that she had stolen.

Leah Merogenia, a single mother in her 30s and sole breadwinner in the family, broke into tears and embraced her lawyer as soon as Magistrate Colin Wong left the courtroom after imposing the fine on Nov. 1.

She also hugged her male employer who was at the hearing and was reportedly taking her back. 

She was charged with theft for stealing a pack each of oatmeal, blueberries, candy dates, cashew, two packs of dumplings, two packs of pork and a pack of chicken fillet, worth a total of $199.30 from a Wellcome shop in Taiwai, Shatin on July 19.

She pleaded not guilty when the case came up for mention at Shatin Court in July, paving the way for the one-day trial on Nov 1, during which both the key witness, a staff at the Wellcome store, and Merogenia gave evidence.

The Filipina’s troubles began when she went to the supermarket on the first floor of Yiu Po Mansion after buying some vegetables from the market.

The prosecution said she was seen by a male staff picking up the oatmeal pack and all the other items and putting them into her black recyclable shoulder bag, unaware that she was being watched by the supermarket staff.

Merogenia also took two packs of fishballs and went to the cashier and paid for them, but not the nine items that she had stashed in her bag. When she left the supermarket and crossed the street, the staff stopped her, inspected her bag and found the unpaid for items.

He called the police and Merogenia was arrested.

Pronouncing his verdict on Nov 3, Wong rejected Merogenia’s evidence, saying he doubted that she forgot to pay for the nine grocery items because she was concerned about her sick son.

In contrast, Wong said he accepted the Welcome staff’s evidence because he was truthful and reliable. He said he found the defendant guilty.

In sentencing, the magistrate said: “I considered the defendant’s clear record, the nature of the offense and the value of the stolen items. I impose a fine of $2,000 to be taken from the bail money.”

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