Leeds postmaster stole more than £40,000 from safe to fund addiction to gambling and cocaine

A postmaster stole more than £40,000 from a safe at the branch in Leeds where he was entrusted to look after cash.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:45 am

Jack Priestley took the money over a three year period of offending to fund his addiction to gambling and cocaine.

Leeds Crown Court heard Priestley was employed as the postmaster at the Post Office based in the Premier store on King Street, Drighlington.

As part of his duties, Priestley was responsible for bagging up cash from the safe and arranging for it to be collected from the store.

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Leeds Crown Court.
Leeds Crown Court.

The 30-year-old defendant carried out the deception by making arrangements for cash to be collected and then cancelling the collections.

Priestley would instead keep cash for himself.

Suspicions were raised in January last year and an auditor attended the branch to discuss discrepancies as it appeared that excess amounts of cash had been kept on the premises.

Priestly was not working when the auditor arrived and staff were asked to contact him.

No one could get hold of the defendant and the auditor arranged to return at a later date.

A further 30 attempts were made to contact Priestley but he did not answer his phone.

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Priestley said he would get ready and come into work but he failed to turn up and did not answer his phone.

A staff member went back to Priestley's home and his mother said she had reported him missing to the police.

Priestley then sent a text message stating that he could not face going into work because he was embarrassed.

He admitted that he used the money for gambling, stating that he could get £10,000 of it back.

CCTV footage checks showed Priestley constantly checking the safe, sitting on the floor and counting cash then putting something in his pocket.

Priestley was in possession of a small amount of cocaine when he was arrested.

When interviewed he told officers that his offending had gone on for three years.

He said he viewed taking the money "as an interest-free loan" but "things got out of hand."

Priestly told officers the offending first started with him taking £2,000 to pay for a holiday.

He also took cash to pay for a deposit on a car.

Bank statements confirmed that he had spent large amounts of money on gambling.

Priestley, of Hammond Crescent, Drighlington, pleaded guilty to theft.

He pleaded guilty on the basis that he had stolen £41,000.

Martin Morrow, mitigating, said Priestley has no previous convictions and had been frank about what he had done.

He said: "The catalyst was gambling over a significant period of time.

"Since this offence came to light there have been no further instances of this type of behaviour.

"He has resiled from using cocaine."

Describing the offending, Mr Morrow said: "He buried his head in the sand and hoped it would go away but that was far from the truth."

Mr Morrow said Priestley had the offer of permanent work as a labourer if he was not sent immediately to custody.

Priestly was given a 16-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and was made the subject of a curfew for five months.