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Criminal law: Postman who stole 31,000 letters avoids prison sentence

Even in our modern world in which most of our correspondence is electronic, we still rely on the Royal Mail to deliver birthday cards, parcels, bills and more. Despite describing it as 'snail mail', we expect our letters to arrive in our letterboxes promptly and intact. But for three-and-a-half years, residents in parts of Burnley, Lancashire, did not receive their post at all.

Postman Steve Tasker recently admitted to stashing away more than 31,000 letters and parcels in his home between March 2007 and September 2010.

As well as hiding away the post in his house, he also admitted to opening some of the letters, stealing £200 in cash meant as gifts.

Mr Tasker claimed that he would often be too drunk to complete his postal round and that he was having a "tough time" at home, since he had to care for his wife and daughter, who are both disabled.

He said: "It was a very stressful and difficult time, I was looking after my wife and daughter and that in itself was a full-time job.


"There just weren't enough hours in the day."

Mr Tasker was eventually found out in September 2010 when he came under the surveillance of Royal Mail, who had received complaints from customers who had not been getting their post.

On the day of surveillance, it was discovered that Mr Tasker had not bothered to collect the 331 items of post he was meant to deliver that day and so officers were sent to search his home.

They found 15,253 post packets inside his house and a further 15,831 in and behind his garden shed, some dating back to 2007.

The Royal Mail sorted the packets and redelivered them, with an apology, at an expense of £1,530, which was paid out of Mr Tasker's pension fund.

At his hearing, Mr Tasker's defence claimed that he had an alcohol problem, poor health and difficult home life due to his wife's cerebral palsy and his daughter's disability.

Mr Tasker was found guilty of interfering with mail, damage and theft. He was sentenced to 32 weeks in jail, but this was suspended for a year, with 12 months' supervision, alcohol treatment and the Thinking Skills programme.

Mr Tasker said: "Personally I think I should have gone to prison. I know I have done wrong and I am sorry.

"The judge obviously realised that I had to look after my family, they need me to be here and I am grateful I am able to still look after them."

Related links:
Read more on the story (This is Lancashire)
Read 'Can someone else open my post?' (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)