ATV reporter-turned-barrister Stanley Ma Ho-fai could not keep his fingers off a bra, an Eastern Court magistrate decided yesterday. Ma, 44, was found guilty of theft for stealing a HK$350 white bra with red lace from a Peng Chau resident's drying rack in May. He was convicted after trial and fined HK$3,000. Ma, a journalist for 12 years before joining the bar in October 2000, had a clear record before yesterday, his lawyer said. 'The verdict is the biggest punishment already,' lawyer Martin Lee Chu-ming, senior counsel, said in mitigation to Magistrate Jason Wan Siu-ming yesterday. 'Even if you gave him no penalty, he would have suffered a great blow,' he said. The magistrate acknowledged that Ma had a good background and profession, and agreed the conviction would be damaging. Ma had removed his name from the Bar List. A notice of appeal was filed immediately after the verdict yesterday. During the trial, Cheng Lai-chun, testified that she had spotted a man taking the bra from a neighbour's drying rack after seeing that her dog was watching something outside her window on May 3. Cheng said she saw a man outside with his back to her holding a bag with one hand and appearing to put things in it with the other. Women's underwear was on the rack, she said. The court heard that a wallet containing Ma's bank, credit, university access and Bar Association cards was found in a bin on the island on the day of the theft. Cheng reported the case to police, and later identified Ma outside a restaurant near the island's pier. Ma denied the allegations. During the trial, Lee faulted the police for not holding a proper identification parade. They decided against doing so because they were unsure Cheng could identify him in a line-up, Lee said. In giving his verdict yesterday, the magistrate said he found Cheng an honest and reliable witness, and rejected the suggestion of an intentional arrangement in the identification parade. There was abundant evidence to convict Ma, he said. Lee said during the trial that the prosecution had accused Ma of being a poor thief for leaving his wallet behind after stealing the bra. However, the lack of an identification parade meant the possibility could not be ruled out that someone might have stolen Ma's wallet as well as the bra before dumping them in the bin. The Bar Council of the Hong Kong Bar Association said it would not comment on the conviction of any individual barrister until it had fully considered the matter.