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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Carlisle postman stole jewellery, FA Cup tickets and vouchers - court

A temporary postman stole jewellery and football match tickets from packages he was sorting.

Craig Duncan McFarlane photo
Craig Duncan McFarlane

Craig Duncan McFarlane, 23, was caught red-handed after bosses at Carlisle’s main sorting office carried out covert surveillance. He has been warned he may face jail.

At the city’s magistrates’ court, he admitted three thefts, all from mail he was sorting at Carlisle’s Junction Street Royal Mail depot in December.

Anthony Wilson, prosecuting, described how McFarlane, of Blackwell Road, Currock, landed a temporary job as a casual postman.

“The inquiry started when managers received information that the defendant was opening packages while sorting inward mail,” MrWilson told the court.

Over 21 minutes during an evening shift on December 19 last year, McFarlane was seen opening packages to examine the contents before throwing wrapping or envelopes into a bin.

The goods stolen by McFarlane included two Zippo lighters, three silver necklaces and charms, a watch worth £279, 35 gift vouchers, and eight FA Cup match tickets for the Sunderland v Carlisle United match on January 5.

The vouchers had already been cashed in, but when interviewed McFarlane said he would have used them had they been valid.

Mr Wilson added: “The defendant said he had money problems, causing him to open the packages to look for items to steal.”

Geoff Lockerbie, for McFarlane, said his client had not planned to steal anything from the post he was sorting. He described how an envelope had been thrown towards him by a colleague and it had burst open, the Seiko watch spilling out of it.

“On the spur of the moment, he decided to take it,” said Mr Lockerbie. “That is how it all started. It is entirely out of character for this young man to get involved in anything like this.”

At the time, McFarlane was holding down another job at a cash and carry, working numerous shifts and was tired.

“It may well be that tiredness affected his thinking,” said Mr Lockerbie, who handed over a sheaf of “glowing” references.

District Judge Gerald Chalk told the defendant: “You were carrying out a task of the highest integrity as far as the general public are concerned. We rely on our postmen and trust the Post Office. We don’t expect dishonesty to occur.”

The judge said he was considering a possible jail sentence and possibly even sending McFarlane to Carlisle Crown Court for sentence – a course taken when sentencing powers in the lower court are deemed to be insufficient.

He adjourned the case for reports until May 15, granting McFarlane bail in the interim.

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