City'super Store at IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, WiNG

A Filipino domestic worker has been spared jail time on being convicted of a minor theft after her lawyer told a Hong Kong court she was distressed at the time of the incident as her husband had dumped her.

The defendant, 47, was witnessed by a city’super store employee putting six items, including a doll, a coffee dispenser and baby socks, into a bag instead of in her shopping cart at IFC Mall in Central on March 14. The total value of the items was HK$851 (US$108), reported. Surveillance video confirmed the theft.

The Eastern Magistrates’ Court heard the case on September 3. The woman’s defense lawyer told Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi that the defendant forgot to pay for the items because she was distressed after her husband, who had come to work in Hong Kong in February, had left her for another woman.

The defendant’s employer, a British lawyer, also testified in court and said she was an excellent worker. Her monthly salary was HK$5,500, or HK$1,090 more than the standard minimum wage for domestic workers.

The judge ruled that the surveillance video clearly showed that the woman was guilty of theft. Cheng said the defendant should have been imprisoned but in an act of leniency, he ordered her instead to pay a fine of HK$3,500.

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