A POSTMAN has gone on trial accused of stealing mail.
Philip Newman, 48, is alleged to have stolen two recorded delivery items while he worked at the Royal Mail delivery office in Hartlepool.
He went on trial yesterday at Teesside Crown Court where he denies two counts of theft from Royal Mail Group on April 17 and 26 last year.
The court heard how staff at the office mounted a surveillance operation against Newman after a recorded delivery package went missing.
Prosecutor Barry Robson told the jury that a postal worker noticed the package in Newman’s mail, even though the destined address was not part of his round.
The package, which contained a £20 Marks & Spencer voucher, had already been tried to be delivered but no-one was at home so a card for collection was left.
Mr Robson, said: “The prosecution say an experienced postman like this would have noticed there was a ‘notice left’ mark and he would have put that aside to be put into the callers’ office to be collected.
“What happened was it was turned upside down in a way that the address wasn’t readily readable.”
Mr Robson said Newman took the package out with him on his round, and it was not seen again.
The owner of the package went to the office the next day to collect it, but it could not be found.
As a result of the incident, a surveillance investigation began on Newman.
On April 26, Mr Robson said Newman was seen on CCTV to take another recorded delivery package when sorting the mail, again despite it not being on his round.
Mr Robson added: “He was putting things into his round which should have gone somewhere else.”
The court heard that investigators had put three fake birthday cards into the mail to see if Newman tampered with them, but he did not touch any.
When interviewed by bosses, Newman, of Hartley Close, Hartlepool, said he was not aware the items were wrongly included in his round and blamed human error.
He denied doing anything dishonest.
The trial continues.