A STRESSED-out postie ended up hiding more than 200 letters and leaflets he had failed to deliver.
James Gardiner kept two sacks full of mail he claimed he hadn’t put through people’s letterboxes because he was “under pressure”.
As a result of his bizarre behaviour the Royal Mail had to send out letters of apology to scores of affected customers.
Other mail workers were sent out to ensure that all the post involved was eventually delivered to its intended recipients, some of it more than three years late.
Livingston Sheriff Court heard Gardiner was caught after a Royal Mail sack full of undelivered “postal packets” turned up at a waste disposal depot in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire.
An investigation was launched and it emerged that the 46 letters and 26 door-to-door flyers in the bag had gone missing on Gardiner’s delivery run between July 2 and 6, 2015.
Gardiner initially said when he was interviewed by his bosses that he thought he had left the mail in the boot of his car.
He claimed his wife must have cleaned the car and put the sack of letters in the bin.
However, Fiona Nairn, prosecuting, said Gardiner agreed to allow his home at Woodlands Cottages in Armadale, to be searched.
Another delivery bag which contained mail dating from March 23 to April 3, 2012, was found in his garden shed.
The bag contained 12 more letters and 28 leaflets, bringing the total number of undelivered postal packets to 212.
At interview, Gardiner said he felt under pressure from management colleagues to complete his deliveries.
She said Royal Mail had since delivered all of the addressed mail that had been recovered and apologised to customers for the delay.
Gardiner, 57, earlier pleaded guilty to intentionally delaying postal packets in the course of their transmission contrary to the Postal Services Act 2000.
Standing in the dock yesterday with his bag packed ready to go to prison, he looked relieved when sentence was passed.
Sheriff Ian Duguid QC ordered him to instead carry out 250 hours of unpaid work within 18 months.
He told Gardiner that the community payback order was a direct alternative to a prison sentence.
It’s not the first time a postie in the Lothians has been caught stashing letters. In 2012, a postal worker in East Lothian appeared in court after 2,500 pieces of mail were found in his car and his attic.
A Royal Mail spokeswomen said: “Royal Mail has a zero tolerance approach to any dishonesty and that stance is shared by the overwhelming majority of postmen and women who do all they can to protect the mail and deliver it safely.
“We will always seek to prosecute the tiny minority of people who abuse their position of trust.”