Postman admits stealing letters for Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in hope of finding donations inside

Postman stole letters

Postman stole letters - Credit: PA

A “greedy” Suffolk postman who stole more than 170 postal packages has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.

Paul Hemingway, who was based at the Royal Mail sorting office in Stowmarket, was caught in April after his employers noticed items were going missing and set a trap using test packages, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Hemingway was seen randomly selecting items which looked like greeting cards and was stopped by investigators as he left the office, said Nicola May, prosecuting.

A test package, containing a donation to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, was found in his trolley and as Hemingway was being taken to a manager’s office to be searched he was seen to put something in a bin.

When the item was retrieved it was found to be half a gift voucher which had been in one of the test packages, said Miss May.

When Hemingway was searched he had £40 cash, two £5 notes which had been inserted in test packages, 60 euros and three cheques.

When his home was searched investigators found 69 mistreated mail items containing CD’s and DVD’s, 103 home shopping packages, 30 Amazon packages and 73 Love Film packages.

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A number of cheques totalling more than £5,000 were also found in Hemingway’s possession as well as the contents of a package used in a previous test operation, said Miss May.

Hemingway made full admissions during interviews and accepted opening mail specifically looking for items to steal.

“He said he would keep the money and would ultimately burn the cheques,” said Miss May.

He admitted deliberately selecting Owl Sanctuary items because he was aware they would contain donations of money.

He said that although he had a £6,000 credit card debt and £15,000 debts from a previous business he had stolen mail items out of greed.

Hemingway, 53, of Clare Close, Stowmarket, admitted four offences of theft between January 1 last year and April 28 this year.

The court heard the value of the stolen items was £600.

Sentencing him to a four month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordering him to do 250 hours unpaid work in the community Recorder Ian Evans told Hemingway:”You were in a position that involved a high degree of trust.”

Hemingway was ordered to pay £600 compensation and £1,000 costs.

Jonathan Goodman for Hemingway, said his client had no previous convictions and had now lost his good character.

He said the thefts were unsophisticated and Hemingway hadn’t stolen items with the intention of reselling them for profit.

“He is thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour,” said Mr Goodman.