A POSTAL worker helped himself to hundreds of pounds sent by special delivery – and tossed precious greetings cards in the bin.

Paul McCarthy used the stolen cash to fund his gambling addiction and a new-found cocaine habit. 

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard the Melksham dad had been caught out last year after Royal Mail investigators installed covert cameras following reports of special delivery parcels going missing. 

In March, he was caught on CCTV going into an enclosure where the items earmarked for special delivery were kept and where he had no reason to be. He was seen to remove an item, the justices were told.

On July 24, as the special delivery service resumed after a hiatus during the first lockdown, McCarthy was seen on CCTV taking a parcel containing €1,560. 

He was challenged by Royal Mail officers and told he was going to be searched. McCarthy tried to run away but was stopped. 

When investigators searched his house they found multiple greetings cards in bins outside. Some of the cards dated back to 2018. 

Interviewed by the Royal Mail detectives, McCarthy admitted trying to take the parcel in July but initially denied stealing other packages sent in the post. 

He later confessed to taking around 10 letters a week. He obtained around £160 cash from the greetings cards he stole.

McCarthy, of Blueberry Road, Melksham, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft by an employee. The prosecution was brought privately by Royal Mail. 

Richard Williams, mitigating, asked the magistrates to spare his client an immediate prison sentence, which would have a significant impact on his wife of 10 years and their son. McCarthy had worked for the postal service since 1996, had no previous convictions and, with a theft conviction, would now struggle to find employment. 

The court heard McCarthy had stolen to fund his gambling addiction. He had also begun using cocaine, having been introduced to it by gambling mates. 

Probation officer Michelle James told the JPs: “Gamblers never win, so he would of course lose that money then want to try and get that money back by placing a bigger bet on something else. 

“That is when he began stealing from Royal Mail, because he had no disposable income left.” 

He was very remorseful. 

The magistrates sentenced him to 36 weeks imprisonment suspended for 18 months. He was ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation activity days and pay £128 in victim surcharge. 

The court heard McCarthy had arranged with Royal Mail to pay the costs and compensation privately.