A Filipino domestic worker found guilty of one count of theft was fined HK$2,000 (about US$250), which was 10 times the value of the items she stole from a Wellcome supermarket in Yiu Po Mansion in Tai Wai in Hong Kong’s New Territories.

Leah Merogenia, a single mother in her 30s and sole breadwinner of the family, was arrested on July 19 for stealing one packet each of oatmeal, blueberries, candy dates and cashews, two packs of dumplings, two packs of pork and a pack of chicken fillet, worth a total of HK$199.30, sunwebhk.com reported.

On November 1, Merogenia pleaded not guilty when the case came up at a Shatin court. She said she had simply forgotten to pay for the items because she was concerned about her sick son.

However, a supermarket staffer said he saw her put the items in her bag. He said she did pay for two packets of fishballs, but not for the items in her bag.

After she left, the staffer stopped her and inspected her bag, where he found the unpaid-for items. He called the police and Merogenia was arrested.

On November 3, the prosecutor said he doubted that Merogenia forgot to pay for the items and he accepted the staffer’s testimony. The woman was found guilty and fined HK$2,000 instead of imprisonment, because of her clear record.

Her male employer, who was at the hearing, reportedly took her back home.

According to Hong Kong’s Theft Ordinance, the maximum sentence for theft is 10 years’ imprisonment, but a jail sentence is not mandatory.