Postman avoids jail after stealing cards and packages
Paul Heaney pocketed mail from his delivery route in Dundee over the course of two years.
A postman has avoided jail after stealing dozens of cards he thought were likely to contain money.
Paul Heaney, 38, of Dundee, was caught by Royal Mail bosses after they suspected he was pocketing post from his delivery route.
A court heard how they placed two fake birthday cards into his sorting pile which later disappeared.
Staff found them in his delivery pouch and Heaney admitted he had stolen "around a dozen" cards over the last two years to help him through "financial difficulties".
A police search of his property found 89 stolen cards and packages, stored in his garden shed.
A pile of gift cards and postal surcharge cards were also discovered.
Fiscal depute Joanne Smith told Dundee Sheriff Court: "He initially said he had been stealing postal packets for around one-and-a-half months.
"His home was then searched and surcharge cards and various gift cards were found.
"He later admitted stealing many greetings card type packets over the course of two years.
"A total of 89 intact packets were recovered in his garden shed.
"The recovered mail was forwarded to the correct addresses with a suitable letter of explanation."
Heaney pleaded guilty by letter to three charges of theft and one under the Postal Services Act 2000.
The offences are said to have occurred between August 1, 2014, and October 19, 2016, at the Dundee West Delivery Office in the city's Baird Avenue.
Defence solicitor John Boyle said: "He has shown remorse and shame for his actions. He knows this is utterly unacceptable.
"There are very robust community based sentences available."
Sheriff Tom Hughes told Heaney that jail would be the "normal" punishment for his crime - but instead ordered him to carry out unpaid work in the community and put him on an electronic tag.
He said: "This is a matter of the utmost seriousness and the court cannot sit back and watch this going on.
"People should be able to post things in confidence."