Postman jailed for a year for stealing parcels in Saffron Walden and selling items on eBay

PUBLISHED: 16:49 12 March 2015 | UPDATED: 16:49 12 March 2015

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A debt ridden postman has been jailed for stealing packages on his rounds in Saffron Walden and selling some of the items on eBay.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that over two-and-a-half years Christopher John Caldwell, 44, of The Stackyard, Ickleton, pocketed up to £3,000.

He would target parcels and sell the goods in them such as iPods, clothing and electrical items.

As he jailed the postie for a year today (Thursday), Deputy Circuit Judge Patrick O’Brien told him: “This is one of the most serious forms of theft and a breach of trust on employers and the general public.

“It’s viewed poorly by the whole nation because everyone receives mail from time to time. Thefts of this nature can rarely, if ever, mean suspended sentences.”

Caldwell pleaded guilty to six charges – three thefts, two of opening mail while engaged in a business as a postal operator and one of money laundering, all between November 1, 2011 and November 10, 2014.

Michael Orsulik, prosecuting for the Royal Mail, said Caldwell was caught out by “test” deliveries of greeting cards last year and admitted to having stolen other items over the previous 30 months.

Caldwell worked as a postman for 27 years based in Saffron Walden, collecting from post boxes, sorting mail and delivering. But in the months leading up to October last year Royal Mail received an increasing number of complaints concerning types of mail which had been interfered with – opened and re-sealed with sellotape.

Mr Orsulik said they were mainly greeting cards. An investigation was carried out and Caldwell was identified as a suspect.

He continued: “As a result on October 30 four greeting card items were posted in Tesco in Saffron Walden and later checked and two out of the four had been opened.

“A further eight specially-prepared items were posted about 10 days later in Tesco and Market Square post boxes. They contained £75 cash and a £10 John Lewis gift voucher.”

All had been tampered with, the court heard, with cash and voucher removed, and “within the same collection” a further 23 items had been opened by the defendant, said Mr Orsulik.

He said that Caldwell was allowed to perform a further collection that day and returned at about 5.30pm when he was arrested.

When interviewed following his arrest, Caldwell admitted taking two to three items a week for two-and-a-half years, and selling iPods, clothing and electrical goods on eBay for an average of £30 each. Laura Glover, mitigating, said Caldwell was employed from school at 16 in the job. She said that for over 20 years he loved and valued his job and was trusted by his employers and colleagues.

However, she said he found himself in debt three years ago as a result of financial support to his “dependents” following the breakdown of two relationships and became “literally desperate”.

Ms Glover added: “He’s very, very sorry indeed and shows genuine remorse. He lost two stone last year because of the anxiety and shame.

“He’s been working as a milkman for the past six weeks which shows his maturity. He’s due to get married later this year to his partner but knows it is not likely to take place.”

Caldwell pleaded guilty to theft of £75 cash and a £10 John Lewis gift voucher, another of stealing £90 cash and a third of stealing postal packets value unknown.

He further admitted two offences of engaging in the business of a postal operator by opening postal packets. Finally he admitted money laundering by selling items on eBay.

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