A postman who stole valuable items meant to be delivered to homes has avoided jail.

David Allen, 44, was a highly trusted employee at Royal Mail for 20 years before he was caught stealing.

A court heard he took items including perfume, a Nike jacket and Adidas trainers, to a total value of more than £3,000.

He was caught after covert CCTV was installed at a depot in Ashington, Northumberland, where he worked when bosses became suspicious.

Allen, from Newbiggin-by-the-Sea,  Northumberland, was given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.

The defence claimed he stole items after his drink and drug addiction caused his finances to ‘spiral out of control’.  

Recorder Anthony Dunne told Allen: ‘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.’

During an interview, Allen accepted stealing some items 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 £3,133 but Royal Mail also accrued £9,000 in investigation costs and £2,000 in legal costs.

Royal Mail compensated members of the public who lost out.

Allen was asked to allow Royal Mail to recover the money from his £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  Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, 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.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page.