PICTURE: MARK JAMIESON
A FORMER postman and “keen cyclist” who stole cycle products from the mail and who had received a six months jail term has avoided going to prison after he lodged an appeal.
John Francis Woodhouse (43), of Bellisk Drive, Cushendall, had previously pleaded guilty to theft and was freed on bail pending an appeal regarding the terms of the sentence he had received.
At Antrim County Court this week the six months jail term was suspended for two years. Previously, at Ballymena Magistrates Court, Woodhouse had admitted a charge of theft of mail in transmission.
On unknown dates between June 10, 2016, and August 8, 2017, at the Royal Mail Ballymena Delivery Office he stole postal packets. The County Court ordered that he pays compensation of £410.29 which included the price of a tracking device worth £150.
At Ballymena Magistrates Court earlier this year District Judge Peter King had said: “This is a gross breach of trust. You were employed as a postal delivery man. I struggle to see a greater breach of trust than a postman stealing the mail.
“In order for the public to have confidence in the postal system those who operate it have to have the utmost integrity”.
The judge said the public had to have “a significant degree of faith” in the postal service and as such the court had to send out a message “that this sort of thing is never appropriate” as he sentenced him to six months in jail.
At the Magistrates Court, a prosecutor said cycling related items were going missing. It was known Woodhouse was “a very keen cyclist” and after a tracking device was put on a package from a cycling firm it was noted it left the sorting office at the same time as Woodhouse.
When the defendant returned investigators were waiting for him. The defendant admitted stealing the ‘test’ packet and admitted taking other cycling gear packages.
Defence barrister Neil Moore, told the Magistrates Court the defendant no longer works for Royal Mail. Mr Moore said it was a “gross breach of trust” but that the defendant had made “full and frank admissions”.
He said all the goods were recovered from either the defendant’s car or his home. Mr Moore said the offences happened after a bereavement “and depressive issues came to the fore”.
The barrister said Woodhouse did not need the items which were not sold but were held in his home. Mr Moore said the defendant had expressed “extreme regret”. The barrister said Woodhouse had “brought great shame upon his family”.