A postman caught stealing gift cards he was supposed to deliver has avoided jail.
Jonathan David Mawhinney received a three-month suspended sentence for thefts carried out while on his rounds in Belfast last year.
The 24-year-old, of Beech Park in Portadown, Co Armagh, was detected after Royal Mail bosses used test packages to discover where missing post was ending up.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard staff based in the city had received multiple complaints about letters and packages not reaching addresses.
It was established that the undelivered mail were on a postal route assigned to Mawhinney.
Three tracked letters were then included in his allocated post in a bid to confirm the pilfering.
Mawhinney’s vehicle was searched in September 2016, once it was confirmed that none of them made it to their intended destinations.
The test packages were uncovered along with 500 other postal items he was supposed to have delivered earlier that day.
Mawhinney admitted a charge of stealing 14 greeting cards and their contents, including gift cards of an unknown value belonging to Royal Mail Group and its service users.
He also accepted a further count of being a postal operator interfering with mail by intentionally delaying the delivery of 500 postal packets.
Defence counsel Joel Lindsay stressed there was no theft of those letters, which were merely to have been posted earlier in his client’s shift.
Mr Lindsay told the court Mawhinney’s actions came at a time when he was going through a personal crisis due to his domestic situation.
The defendant has no previous record and is deemed unlikely to reoffend, the court heard.
Imposing the three-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, District Judge Oonagh Mullan accepted Mawhinney acted out of character and while under pressure.