Thieving Leeds postman must pay £17,000

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A ROYAL Mail manager who was jailed for stealing cash and valuables as “revenge” at being made redundant has been ordered to pay back more than £17,000 of his ill gotten gains.

Paul Surtees was given a 16-month sentence after he abused his trusted position and stole from high value parcels while working at the Leeds Mail Centre.

Surtees, 49, was due to collect a £73,000 redundancy payout after 32 years of service when he carried out the offences.

He was caught after the Royal Mail began a surveillance operation in July 2012 over concerns that items were not reaching their onward destinations. Surtees, now out of prison on licence, returned to Leeds Crown Court to face a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Kenton Sergeant, prosecuting, said Surtees benefited to the value of £17,602 as a result of his criminal conduct. The court heard Surtees has assets in excess of £300,000, including a pension worth £200,000 and a property worth £108,000.

Mr Sergeant asked the Recorder of Leeds, judge Peter Collier, QC, to consider ordering Surtees to pay the £11,776 cost of the Royal Mail investigation. He said: “This was a significant investigation involving undercover officers.”

Narinder Rathour, for Surtees, said his client had already repaid more than £8,000. The judge ordered Surtees to pay the outstanding amount within six months or face a nine month prison sentence. He also ordered him to pay £5,000 costs.

Jailing Surtees in July last year, Recorder Simon Batiste said: “The Royal Mail is a cherished institution and the public have the right to expect that parcels and letters, especially those by special delivery, will get to their destination unhindered.”

“Part of the motivation was based on anger and revenge towards the Post Office as your job was under threat. That is an aggravating feature.”

The covert operation became focussed on Surtees when he was seen dealing “inappropriately” with packages.

Stolen items were later found in his bag and after searches of his car and home. Among the items stolen were more than £4,000 of gift cards and vouchers.

He also stole a £4,500 package of cash which was destined for Post Offices. Another stolen package contained £1,500 of fire-damaged notes which was supposed to go to the Bank of England. Surtees, of Dunlop Avenue, Wortley, pleaded guilty to seven offences of theft. During interview about the offences Surtees said part of his motivation for the thefts was revenge at being made redundant.

Mr Rathour said: “He was certainly bitter about how he was treated.”

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