A senior government lawyer at the centre of allegations she concealed her shoplifting conviction when applying for a job with the government was a kleptomaniac with a long history of depression, a psychiatrist testified yesterday. After analysing Gloria Au Yuen-wah, 45, Dr Leung Chi-ing concluded she had been suffering from major depression for the past decade and had been a kleptomaniac for 'much longer'. She also was under immense stress due to her kleptomania and her professional calling - to uphold the law, he said. Dr Leung said these two factors combined to produce a form of dissociative amnesia which blocked any memory of a 1975 shoplifting conviction. Au has been accused of failing to divulge a 13-year-old shoplifting conviction to secure a job with the government's Legal Department on November 26, 1988. The court has heard that when she applied for the job as a crown counsel or assistant crown counsel, she ticked the 'No' box when asked if she had been found guilty of a criminal offence. Au has pleaded not guilty to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception. Judge John Saunders, sitting in the District Court, also has heard Au's fingerprints, taken on August 26, 2001, in relation to another matter, were found to be identical to a set taken in 1975. The earlier prints related to the December 19, 1975, arrest of a Li Pui-ling, who was caught shoplifting. Li was charged with theft and on December 29, 1975, pleaded guilty in South Kowloon Court. She was discharged on a $500 good behaviour bond. Yesterday, Dr Leung also said Au had admitted to shop thefts during the early 1980s when she was studying for a law degree in Australia. Au had told him that after she was employed by the Legal Department she would often go for walks around the shops near her office and steal. She had felt unable to cope with work or to socialise with colleagues or family during the period, the court was told. Dr Leung said that in August 2001, Au's illness culminated in an attempted overdose at the office after her publicised shoplifting arrest. When he interviewed Au for the current proceedings, Dr Leung said she claimed she had no recollection of committing any shoplifting offences in 1975. He said the process of concealment that arose out of kleptomaniac behaviour had combined with her depression to produce dissociative amnesia, which acted as a defence mechanism to block out the 1975 conviction. 'This is due to insurmountable stress, which is mainly shame,' he said. 'In regards to memory loss of the 1975 incident, she has been suffering from dissociative amnesia probably as early as the early or mid 1980s.' The prosecution claims Li Pui-ling and Au are the same person. The trial continues.