A thieving postman has been jailed for four months after he admitted hiding thousands of letters at home because his bag was too heavy for him.
Teenager Christopher Meek, who is 5ft 5in tall and weighs less than 10st, admitted hoarding 13,819 postal packages.
Sunderland Magistrates heard he was arrested in December after the Royal Mail received complaints from people who had not received Christmas presents.
The 19-year-old postman kept the mail at his home before opening 1,457 items and stealing the contents.
Police officers found thousands of items, all with postmarks dating between September and December. A Royal Mail investigation found he had taken CDs, gift vouchers, DVDs, jewellery and other goods.
Spiral out of control
Prosecutor Paul Herron told the court: ‘When he was interviewed he denied any wrong-doing, saying the work was too heavy and he had always intended returning the mail. He admitted spending the money he had stolen and giving other items away.’
Defence solicitor Peter Thubron said Meek was struggling to carry the postal bags and had taken them home to deliver later but had let the situation spiral out of control.
Jailing the teenager for four months, the magistrates’ chairman of the bench, Alex Hendry, said Meek had committed a very serious offence.
‘The true value of the parcels you stole may never be known. We feel this was clearly committed over a long period of time coming before Christmas where people are expecting presents. Therefore you brought unhappiness to a lot of people.’
In February it was announced that Royal Mail was facing GBP 11.7 million worth of fines over problems with lost, damaged and stolen post.
Independent regulator Postcomm said the postal group was guilty of serious breaches over protecting the mail and delivering it on time.
Its investigation highlighted particular problems with the recruitment and vetting of temporary Royal Mail staff and the company’s mail security measures.
Two months earlier a Which? survey had revealed that 34 per cent of people saw their post go missing or get damaged in the previous 12 months(see ‘Related links’, below).
At the time the Royal Mail told us that 202 postal staff were convicted of theft in the past year although it wouldn’t say how many items of post are stolen, claiming the information was commercially sensitive.