A thieving postman who stole valuables he was meant to be delivering has avoided being packed off to jail.
David Allen was a highly trusted employee, with 20 years under his belt doing his rounds for Royal Mail.
But when addiction got the better of him, he started stealing to boost his financial predicament.
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When suspicions were raised, covert CCTV was installed at the Ashington depot where he worked to catch him out.
A court heard he stole items including perfume, a Nike jacket and Adidas trainers, to a total value of more than Â£3,000.
Now the 44-year-old, from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
Recorder Anthony Dunne told him: "You worked for Royal Mail for some 20 years and you would have appreciated in that role that those who deliver mail and parcels are given a high degree of trust and responsibility with the property of other people.
"Society increasingly has come to rely on those who sort and deliver mail and parcels in order for everyday life to function in many ways.
"When parcels go missing and are stolen by those responsible for looking after them it will inevitable cause a great deal of concern to members of the public that they can't trust people they rely on.
"From the end of 2019 to mid 2020 you abused the trust that was placed in you by stealing parcels then selling the contents in order to raise money for yourself.
"It had a substantial impact on the business and the loss of the items would have caused a high level of inconvenience to Royal Mail and to the recipients of those parcels."
The court heard in November 2019 it was noticed a package due for delivery from Boots was in the the wrong place in the office.
Later that day the manager gave Allen a lift home and noticed he had the package with him. Checks revealed it had not been delivered.
Allen had a period off work on the sick, during which no further items went missing but when he returned he started stealing again.
Covert CCTV was installed to monitor him in the delivery office and captured him opening 22 packages and stealing 27 items.
In June, he was approached by an investigator at work and his personal bag was searched.
It contained items including stolen perfume and when his home was searched further incriminating goods were found, including a jacket and trainers.
When he was interviewed, he accepted steaing some things but denied others.
Andrew Petterson, prosecuting, said: "The items stolen were of substantial value to the loser and the thefts caused a high level of inconvenience.
"It undermines the confidence of the public in the postal system."
The court heard the total loss was Â£3,133 but Royal Mail also accrued Â£9,000 investigation costs and Â£2,000 legal costs.
The firm compensated members of the public who lost out.
Allen was asked to allow Royal Mail to recover the money from his Â£7,000 pension pot but he declined and the judge said he had no power to force him to do so.
He admitted six counts of theft and was sentenced to ten months suspended for 12 months with a three-month curfew.
The court heard Allen, of Spital Farm, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, had gone into a downward spiral involving him drinking and taking drugs, as a result of bereavement, divorce and childhood issues.
Tony Cornberg, defending, said Allen's life had been "totally out of control".
He added: "After 20 solid years of working, he succumbed to temptation once and crossed the line and did something he would never dream about as his finances spiralled out of control because he was a secret addict.
"His embarrassment is evident.
"He has done a lot to get himself back on track."
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