Willows shopping centre.
Willows shopping centre.

Restaurateur stole from Woolies ‘to feed family’

A WOMAN stole several trolley loads of groceries from a supermarket to feed her family after their Vietnamese restaurant struggled to make ends meet, a court has heard.

Thuy Thi Pham, 44, pleaded guilty to five counts of stealing when appearing in the Townsville Magistrates Court last week.

The court heard Pham walked into Woolworths at the Willows Shopping Centre with a trolley and empty bags and filled them with grocery items before leaving without paying between January 14 to 19.

Some of the items stolen included fresh fruit and vegetables, and soft drink.

The court heard on the fifth occasion, a staff member approached her and she said she was the manager of V Fusion Vietnamese restaurant and had forgotten her money and would return to pay.

She returned to the store and paid for the groceries which totalled $163.37.

Pham was caught on CCTV stealing an estimated total of $400 worth of goods on four other occasions.

Her husband Phuoc Nguyen told the Bulletin she was extremely upset about the situation and said he partly blamed himself as the restaurant was struggling.

Mr Nguyen, Pham and their three children travelled to Australia in 2013 and in August last year opened a family restaurant.

Pham's defence solicitor Jamie Scuderi said the business was struggling before she was caught stealing and they were unable to draw a wage and were only able to pay for bills.

"She took the groceries for living purposes as she was unable to purchase groceries for her family unit because the business unit was doing so poorly," she said.

Mr Nguyen said opening his own restaurant was a dream and he was "very excited" but when it opened business wasn't as good as he expected.

"Firstly, I didn't have wages … up to now I still haven't got any wages from the business. It's very tough," he said.

"I love cooking and I love doing service to people. (For) this to happen I think I blame myself more than anyone else. If I could (be) doing good, there wouldn't be any issue with my wife."

Mr Nguyen said the family now hoped to move on.

Ms Scuderi told the court the stealing was "highly uncharacteristic" for Pham.

The family is now receiving government assistance. She was put on a $500 good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded.