Essex

Essex postman stole letters and birthday card cash

A "naive" postman who took home more than 1,400 letters and stole money from birthday cards in Essex has been given a suspended sentence.

Matthew Cole, of Thaxted Way, Waltham Abbey, also kept a letter informing a patient of a blood transfusion, St Albans Crown Court heard.

The 19-year-old appeared for sentencing having pleaded guilty to delaying post packages and theft.

He was given eight months' detention, suspended for two years.

He must also attend a Thinking Skills course, carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and keep to an evening curfew for three months.

Prosecutor Anthony Heaton-Armstrong said Cole was caught on 15 March when 11 letters were found in the sleeve of his coat at work in Waltham Abbey.

He had begun working for the Royal Mail in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, in June 2009 and had moved to the Essex depot four months later.

His home was searched and 1,405 letters found.

Cards for children

The first letter he had not delivered was dated 14 August 2009 and the most recent from 12 March this year.

Mr Heaton-Armstrong said 120 letters had been opened, all of which were "greeting cards of the kind relatives send to young children with money in them".

When questioned about opening the mail, Cole said he was tempted to see what he could find, the court heard.

He said the largest amount he had taken was £50 and was upset when told the patient could have been seriously affected by him not delivering the blood transfusion letter.

Cole's claim that he had not been properly trained was disputed by the Royal Mail, Mr Heaton-Armstrong added.

Laura Hocknell, defending, said: "He was struggling to complete his round. He was simply not very good at his job.

"He took cash and accepts that was a mean offence. He was naive and unsophisticated."

Judge Ronald Moss warned him he would face jail if he offended again, adding: "This offence was a gross breach of trust.

"You have a lot of growing up to do. You have had a near miss, please do not come back or you know what will happen."

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