Document-Genetics-GlobeRoyal Mail postman failed to deliver 30,000 items of mail

15th November 2011

'Overworked' postman, who hoarded sacks of letters at home, gets community work sentence.

A postman who hoarded 30,000 letters and parcels in his house, car and a garage, has been ordered to do 280 hours of unpaid work.

Paul Willicott claimed that he did not have enough time to deliver all the mail he was expected to handle during his four-hour round. He became so overwhelmed he ended up stashing unopened mail in his car and in his home in Paignton, Devon.

Willicott, 44, told magistrates in Torbay that his intention was to deliver all the mail when his workload was lighter but that he was never able to catch up.

David Thompson, chair of the bench, told Willicott it was "an extremely serious matter". He said: "People have a right to expect their mail to appear at the appointed time. This was a large amount of mail, it was obviously taken over a large period of time. It constitutes a significant breach of trust."

But the magistrates made allowances for the fact that Willicott said he had made several attempts to tell his manager that he was overloaded. The court heard he hid his actions from his wife and two children. None of the letters and parcels had been opened.

Willicott was caught after a member of the public spotted him putting mail into the garage. The magistrates heard the garage was searched and that 174 undelivered items of mail were found. More mail was found in the boot of his car, and, at his home, there were 67 mailbags full of post. A third of the undelivered post was junk mail but two-thirds were letters and packets destined for homes on his round.

Richard Porritt, mitigating, said: "During the course of his round he had to deliver eight bags full of post. He couldn't do it in four hours; it took him sometimes five, sometimes five and a half hours, to get all the mail round.

"It was part of the culture that you did not take mail back to the depot unless there was a very good reason. At the end of the four hours there was a bag of post left and he was stuck behind a rock and a hard place.

"He concealed it intending to deliver it at another time. It became more and more frequent and over time the number increased and eventually it was discovered."

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Every item of mail is very important to us. We have a zero tolerance approach to any dishonesty and this stance is shared by the overwhelming majority of postmen and women."

Willicott was ordered to pay £1,700 costs, half of the total Royal Mail spent investigating him. He admitted two charges under the Postal Services Act of delaying a postal packet or mailbag between October 2008 and June this year.He had been employed as a postman, working from the Torquay delivery office from 2008, but was sacked this year.

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*According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) "The true cost of sending a letter in the UK, including paper, envelope, toner, machine rental, post and time is between 90p and £1.20 (depends on staff hourly rate)."