A DELIVERY driver has been spared jail after he admitted rifling through parcels and stealing smart phones which he sold in his local pub to feed his drug addiction.
Philip McNicholas, 37, took the phones, which he sold for between £100 and £120, along with other electrical goods over an 11-month period before he was caught red-handed by Royal Mail investigators in Chester who used a dummy parcel inside a rucksack.
Investigators discovered the parcel had been opened but when questioned McNicholas, of Willan Road, Blacon, initially denied the offences but later admitted to 12 incidents regarding thefts of goods worth £1,289.
He admitted stealing smartphones, including a Samsung Galaxy and an i Phone 5, on January 8 and in September of last year. On both occasions McNicholas sold the phones to people in the Waggon and Horses pub in Western Avenue.
In October, following complaints from customers claiming they had not received their goods delivered by McNicholas, Royal Mail launched an investigation and began monitoring McNicholas as he went about his delivery duties.
Investigators watched as McNicholas entered a flat in Chester with the dummy parcel in his rucksack.
He was approached as he left the flats and when asked as to why he had the parcel and it was ripped, McNicholas claimed that the parcel had accidentally ripped in transit and he intended to take it back to the Deeside depot later that day.
Eventually admitting the thefts, McNicholas said he had stolen the items to feed his drug addiction which had wreaked havoc on his family. He apologised and said he was ashamed of his actions.
Simon Parrington, prosecuting, said McNicholas had since lost his job as a result and although he had regained employment, the family had been suffering significant financial hardships as a result of his actions.
Adam Antoskiw, defending, said:”This is a really sad case where there is a gentleman with a good job and stable family life who has fallen in to a drug addiction.
He lost his employment and nearly lost his family, which prompted him to get help.
He has made significant progress in addressing his issues and has sorted himself out.
Mr Antoskiw pleaded with magistrates to keep financial punishment to a minimum because of debt and problems with his mortgage payments.
“The financial situation for Mr McNicholas is dire. The level of debt is significant.
Magistrates sentenced McNicholas to an eight week suspended prison sentence, together with 250 hours of unpaid work, £475 costs, and an £80 victim surcharge.
He was also ordered to pay £1,289 in compensation for the stolen goods.
After the case Royal Mail spokesman Mike Norman said: "Parcelforce Worldwide has a zero tolerance approach to any dishonesty and that stance is shared by the overwhelming majority of our delivery men and women, who are honest and hardworking and who do all they can to protect the mail and deliver it safely. It is a criminal offence to tamper with or delay the delivery of mail and anyone caught doing so will face serious disciplinary measures and Parcelforce Worldwide will always seek to prosecute the tiny minority of people who abuse their position of trust.
"The safety and security of mail is of the utmost importance to this business and Parcelforce Worldwide will not allow the actions of any individual to damage the good reputation of our thousands of hard-working delivery men and women."
See full story in the Chester Leader