Post office manager 'faked robberies'

A SUFFOLK post office manager who was facing bankruptcy pocketed more than £26,000 after faking two raids at the premises, a court heard.On one occasion Graham Westley, 40, told police that robbers had put a plastic bag over his head and taped his wrists to the bars of a toilet window before making off with £14,000 from a safe at Hacheston Post Office, near Woodbridge.

A SUFFOLK post office manager who was facing bankruptcy pocketed more than £26,000 after faking two raids at the premises, a court heard.

On one occasion Graham Westley, 40, told police that robbers had put a plastic bag over his head and taped his wrists to the bars of a toilet window before making off with £14,000 from a safe at Hacheston Post Office, near Woodbridge.

However, forensic scientists who examined the tape allegedly used to tie up Westley couldn't find any fibres on it from a jumper he was wearing or any hairs from the back of his wrists.

In addition tests on the tape didn't support his claim that he had been able to tear it off his wrists, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Charles Kellett, prosecuting, said that scientists found that although the tape could be torn quite easily when it was flat, it increased in strength when it was wrapped round something and became much more difficult to tear.

Several months after reporting the alleged robbery Westley claimed that burglars had broken in through a window at the post office and had stolen £12,750 from the safe.

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However police investigators found that long grass outside the window had not been trampled down and there was no evidence of foot marks on the windowsill.

In addition a forensic scientist found that a metal grill at the window had been cut from the inside with a pair of bolt croppers found at Westley's home at Hall Cottages, Great Glemham.

Westley, who was joint manager at the post office and village stores, has denied stealing £14,053 from the post office between October 2002 and May 2003 and a further charge of stealing £12,750 from the post office between February 2003 and October 2003.

He has also denied trying to pervert the course of justice on May 23, 2003 by allegedly lying to the police by claiming there had been a robbery at the post office and a further charge of trying to pervert the course of justice on October 16, 2003 by pretending there had been a burglary at the premises.

Mr Kellett alleged that Westley had faked the robbery and the burglary and had deliberately tried to leave false trails for the police.

"He engineered the whole thing," alleged Mr Kellett.

He claimed that at the time of the alleged offences Westley had severe money difficulties including an outstanding debt with customs and excise relating to unpaid VAT dating back to when he ran a pub.

Mr Kellett said Westley faced being made bankrupt to the tune of £18,000 to £20,000.

Giving evidence yesterday, George Rivers, a performance advisor for the post office said that at the time of the alleged burglary and robbery there were excessive amounts of cash in the safe.

The trial continues today .