A 57-year-old Filipina domestic worker was acquitted of one count of theft at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Magistrate Alan Ng Noi-lun acquitted the defendant Anita S. Villanueva because the prosecution was unable to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, sunwebhk.com.hk reported.
According to the summary of the case read by Ng, the domestic helper and her elderly female employer for eight years, Madame Leng, entered a two-story shop via the second floor of a mall in Prince Edward, Mong Kok, and took an escalator to the first-floor level.
Evidence given at the court by the shop attendant and surveillance camera footage showed that the domestic worker and her employer browsed the merchandise. Before they returned to the upper floor, the worker took a blouse from a shelf and put it in her shopping bag because she needed her hands free to support her employer woman on the escalator.
When they reached the upper level, the employer gestured at the defendant to hurry up and headed for the exit. The worker followed her, forgetting to pay for the blouse.
The shop attendant stopped the two women after they left the shop. She called the police and after the domestic worker was arrested she was charged with theft and released on police bail.
The domestic worker insisted that she did not intend to steal the blouse. In fact, she was planning to pay for it at the upper-level cashier when her employer distracted her by insisting that they leave.
The prosecution said the footage showed that, after taking the item, the worker and her employer were seen leaving the store in haste.
But the defense lawyer said the footage was inconclusive proof that the defendant intended to steal the blouse, and the magistrate agreed with her.
Magistrate Ng said that neither the footage nor the store attendant could prove intent or tell what was going on in the mind of the defendant at the time. He acquitted Villanueva, who continues to work with the same employer.