A former deputy magistrate tried to steal more than HK$30,000 from two clients by claiming that she would use the money to hire a Queen's Counsel to represent them in a deception case. However, Valerie Lim Tin-tin, 43, who was a barrister for 20 years, only asked a local barrister to represent them at a mitigation hearing in 2007. She was remanded in custody after being convicted in the District Court on two counts of attempted theft for trying to steal US$3,900. She and Ho Ying-pan, 49, a legal executive, were acquitted on two counts of stealing US$5,000 from Lee & Co Eddie - the instructing solicitor firm engaged by the victims - on a point of law. Ho was convicted on three counts of using fake authorisation letters. Judge Anthea Pang Po-kam adjourned sentencing to today after reading mitigation letters submitted by a retired High Court judge and the wife of a District Court judge asking for leniency for Lim. The court heard that Ho met Vickie Smith in July 2007 at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre where her husband Tochukwu Nwaneri was detained in a deception case. Ho introduced himself as a lawyer to Smith, who later agreed to hire him, and Lim to represent her husband and a co-defendant John Ryan in the trial. On July 25, Smith handed over US$5,000 as legal fees for her husband and Ryan but Lee & Co Eddie only charged HK$20,000. It was alleged that Lim and Ho kept the difference but the judge ruled that Lim and Ho did not steal from Lee& Co Eddie because the firm was engaged after Smith handed over the money. The judge said although Lim did not violate any law in accepting the money, whether she breached a professional code of conduct as a barrister was another issue. The judge found Lim guilty of trying to steal US$3,900 from Smith and Ryan in dishonestly introducing William Stirling, who is a local barrister, as a London silk. Stirling later represented Nwaneri and Ryan during a mitigation hearing. Asking for clemency, Lim's lawyer, Lawrence Lok Ying-kam, SC, submitted a letter written by retired High Court judge Peter Nguyen, who was Lim's law master when she was a pupil. Nguyen, who described Lim as industrious, straightforward and filial, said the charges against Lim came as a 'complete and utter surprise' to him. He wrote in the letter that Lim's father, Ernest Lim, was a former magistrate, and her grandfather was a well-known lawyer in Singapore. He said the conviction would mean the end of Lim's career and ruin the reputation of her family. Lok also submitted a letter written by District Court Judge Garry Tallentire's wife, who lectures in law at the University of Hong Kong and is a friend of Lim. The Bar Association said it was studying Lim's conviction and would refer the matter to the Barristers Disciplinary Tribunal if an initial finding showed that Lim breached professional conduct.