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Filipina helper acquitted of supermarket theft charge

10 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao  


The defendant was accused of stealing a number of items, including a bottle of wine

A 42-year-old Filipina helper accused of stealing $281.30 worth of food items and a bottle of red wine in a ParkNShop store in Hung Hom in May was acquitted of theft today, Sept 10, in Kowloon City Court.

“Thank you, Lord,” Bless M. Leganio uttered after Magistrate Tsang Chung-yiu said he acquitted the defendant because the prosecution was not able to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Tsang said he considered the defendant’s claim that her mind was muddled at the time by worries about her mother, who was hospitalized a day before the offense.

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The magistrate said he also considered the language barrier between her and the shop staff, as they spoke two different languages. In the end, Tsang said there was doubt, so he acquitted Leganio.

The case went to trial last month after Leganio pleaded not guilty on May 22 to a charge of stealing two packs of fruits, five packs of vegetables, a pack of tofu, a bottle of red wine and a pack of toilet paper from the supermarket in Whampoa Garden on May 11.

Tsang, recapping the defense’s submission, said Leganio was arrested after she allegedly left the store with the unpaid goods she had put in her recyclable bag. He said she was intercepted outside the store by a staff who saw her leave without paying at the cashier.

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“I’m sorry, I forgot to pay. I’m going now to the cashier. I have money, I will pay,” Tsang quoted the woman as saying in English. He said at the time she had $1,150 in her wallet.

But the staff, who spoke Cantonese, took her to the manager’s office and the police were called.

In her court testimony, the staff said he was sweeping the floor around 10:20am when he saw Leganio put a bottle of red wine in a recyclable bag. He saw her take other items before leaving the store without paying.


He intercepted her about three meters away from the shop entrance and told her she had unpaid goods in her bag. He inspected the bag and found the items there.

The Filipina's employer told the court her maid was honest and responsible

Leganio did not give evidence, but her female employer took the witness stand. She said that on the day of the alleged offense, she noticed her maid looking troubled.

The maid reportedly told the employer that her mother was taken to hospital the previous night due to illness. The employer said Leganio wanted to see her mother but could not go home because of the pandemic.

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Months earlier, the employer said Leganio had to go home because her son figured in an accident and was also hospitalized. The maid borrowed $15,000 from her but repaid the loan.

Later, the maid took out another loan and also paid it back. The employer said she trusted the defendant because she was a responsible person.

The defense lawyer, in his submission, said Leganio simply forgot to go to the cashier. He said his client had been losing concentration at the time because of her worries about her mother.  

After her acquittal, Leganio’s employers congratulated her before they went into a conference with the lawyer.





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