Wallington postman spared jail after taking £200 from birthday cards over two years
A pilfering postman who stole hundreds of pounds from people's birthday cards over a two year period has been spared jail.
Michael O'Connor confessed to stealing around £200 he took from greetings cards before going out on his rounds in and around Wallington.
The 55-year-old from Sherbourne Crescent had worked as a postman based at the Wallington Delivery Office for 24 years before he started stealing money from people's cards in 2011 after the death of his brother prompted him to start drinking.
His thefts continued until May this year when a Royal Mail investigation, launched after reports of unusual levels of missing mail connected to the Wallington depot, caught him taking coloured cards from the postmen's carts before they went out on rounds.
Investigators searched O'Connor and found several greetings cards, including one destined for someone in Heron Way, as well as a £10 note he had taken.
Speaking at Croydon Magistrates Court on Thursday, prosecutor Natalie MacNamee said: "Mr O'Connor was interviewed under caution and he admitted he had been opening mail for a period of a few years. he said it was about one to three cards per week and he thought he may have taken around £200 since May 2011."
John Pendlebury, defending, told the court it was "tragic circumstances" that led to O'Connor finding himself in court. He said: "Following the death of his brother he had been drinking too munch and hiding it from his wife.
"He has now lost his good name, lost his job as he resigned immediately, and now he finds himself on benefits trying to get his life back together.
"The magistrates said it was "very sad" that O'Connor found himself in court and opted against giving him a prison sentence. He will have to do 150 hours of unpaid work, something his solicitor said he O'Connor would be happy to do while he searches for employment, and will pay £260 in costs.
The court opted against making him pay the investigation costs that were in excess of £3,000.