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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Postman jailed for letter burning
David Lewis
Lewis retired as a postman two years ago, the court heard
A postman who burned and attempted to destroy 40,000 letters after he retired has been jailed for four months.

David Lewis, 53, from Neath, admitted damaging around 100 postal packets by setting fire to them, when he appeared before the town's magistrates.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to destroy up to 40,000 more items by putting them in skips to be recycled.

Magistrates heard Lewis failed to deliver the packages while employed as a postman at the Neath delivery office.

Christopher Childs, prosecuting for Royal Mail, told the court Lewis had worked for the company for more than six years before leaving in October 2004.

He said that earlier this year when Lewis was moving house he decided to get rid of the sacks of mail which had built up in his shed.

Your actions have caused a great deal of harm
Magistrates chair, Howard Davies

Staff at a recycling plant discovered the bags of post inside the skips and informed Royal Mail.

Mr Childs said Royal Mail investigators found one skip contained 9,308 letters, more than 2,000 of them addressed and the remainder door-to-door mail.

A further three skips contained an estimated 30,000 letters, he added.

Interviewed by Royal Mail Mr Childs said Lewis also admitted burning two bundles of around 50 addressed letters, but said he thought the skips contained only door-to-door mail.

Defending, James Pearn, said: "Throughout the whole offence, Mr Lewis did not deliberately not deliver addressed mail, was not deliberately hiding mail and was not deliberately storing mail."

'Wrong hands'

Mr Pearn said Lewis was delivering up to 4,000 items a day and was paid extra to deliver the door-to-door "junk" mail.

One of the Royal Mail bags found at a recycling centre
Royal Mail bags were found at a recycling centre

He said Lewis was leaving surplus door-to-door mail in his van and this built up while he was off work sick - once for six weeks when he broke his ribs and once for 20 weeks when he had a hernia .

"On those occasions addressed mail he assumed, wrongly, had been dealt with while he was away from work but sadly wasn't, became mixed up with the door-to-door mail which he transferred from the vehicle to his garage," Mr Pearn said.

"When he came to clear the garage he was expecting to find just door-to-door mail and didn't expect to find mail addressed to anybody.

"He knew it could get into the wrong hands and admitted to burning it."

He said Lewis had made a "genuine and heartfelt apology" to Royal Mail and had not gained financially from the non-deliveries, added Mr Pearn.

Lewis was sentenced to four months' in jail for destroying mail and another four months for attempting to destroy mail, both sentences to run concurrently.

Chairman of the magistrates Howard Davies said: "Your actions have caused a great deal of harm not only to your employers, to whom you were in a position of trust, but also the community who lost goods and services to which they were entitled.

40,000 post items found in skips
31 May 06 |  South West Wales
Postman jailed for hoarding mail
14 Jul 06 |  South Yorkshire
Staff suspended over missing post
30 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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