The female owner of Mama Hong’s Cafe has admitted to kidnapping a former employee and holding him for ransom after discovering that he was entering the café after hours and stealing money.
Ann Ngo, 37, was the co-owner of Lane Cove’s Mama Hong’s Vietnamese restaurant.
In March last year, she and her two co-owners noticed money had been going missing from the cash register. Over a two-week period, about $2500 had disappeared.
To find out how this was happening, the owners installed motion sensitive CCTV cameras to alert them if someone entered the cafe outside business hours.
On 22 March 2022, all three owners were having dinner at The Canopy when they noticed a former employee was seated at another restaurant.
The employee had only been with the business for four months after starting in December 2021. The employee had been given a set of keys as he was responsible for opening the café. It appears he had taken a copy of the keys and only handed back the one set when he left the business.
At 9.15 pm on March 22 2022, the two male co-owners were alerted to an intruder at the cafe. They approached the business and saw the ex-employee was taking money from the till.
Ann Ngo, in an Agreed Statement of Facts, stated that her partners ran to the victim, who fell over. The victim was kicked and punched. His phone and wallet were taken from him, and his hand were cable tied. The partner grabbed scissors and cut his hair. He was also slapped in the face with a plastic bucket lid.
The victim was taken from the business with a bleeding nose and was shoved into the back of a car.
At this stage, Ann Ngo was not involved in the incident but a short time later she was picked up and they proceeded towards the victim’s mother’s house. She was not answering the door, but they managed to contact her via phone.
According to the Agreed Statement of Facts, Ann Ngo told her that her son had been
“He has taken a lot of money. If he don’t (sic) give it back, I will take him to the police now,”
His mum agreed to repay the stolen $2500 but first asked for CCTV footage of her son stealing from the business.
Ann Ngo sent her business’ bank details. A short while after, she sent an image from the CCTV footage showing the victim inside the café with his hand in the cash register. She then sent a photo of him in the car showing his bleeding nose.
Once she was satisfied the money was paid in full, the cafe owners drove the victim to a Brett Park in Drummoyne and cut the cable ties securing his hands.
The victim went to McDonald’s Drummoyne to clean up and then walked to Linley Point, where he was picked up by his mother.
He informed the police and was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital suffering from:
- Small volume subarachnoid haemorrhage
- Abrasions, Bruising, and Swelling in the Right Eye
- Bruising on the Bridge of his nose
- Bruising on the hairline above the right temple
- Bruising on his right forearm and shoulder
- Bruising on his left bicep and shoulder
- Bruising on his chest
- Bruising on the back of his neck
- Bruising on his left flank and hip
- Ligature marks on both wrists
The Victim was discharged from the hospital on 25 March 2022.
The police arrested one co-owner when he came to open up the premise on 23 March 2022 and the other owner later in the day. Ann Ngo was arrested at her home and was originally denied bail read more here.
A premises search warrant found white cable ties, blood droplets and the victim’s hair.
Ann Ngo has pleaded guilty to common assault and taking someone as part of. A join criminal enterprise to commit the crime of taking a victim with the intent to holding for ransom. She did not face any charges in relation to the assault that happened at the café.
Ngo will be sentenced later this year.
She was granted conditional bail while she awaits sentencing, which requires her to report to police three times a week and not leave the state.
Her bail was varied to allow her to live in North Strathfield. She is prohibited from discussing her criminal case with her co-owner and from contacting the victim or his mother.
Bail was secured by a $100,000 surety to ensure Ann Ngo returns to court for sentencing.
Mama Hong’s Closed
On 19 July 2022, fixtures and fittings were removed from Mama Hong’s restaurant.
The restaurant has not operated since 22 March 2022.
Mama Hong’s Planned to Reopen
Mama Hong posted the following statement on their Instagram page on 9 June 2022:
Mama Hong’s will be reopening soon! Serving our family’s favourite pho to you all. The owner had always dreamed of bringing her mother’s food to Lane Cove. Read our story on Mama Hong when they first opened here.
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