Norfolk postmaster jailed for stealing �13,000 from post office

A respected village postmaster described as a 'pillar of the community' has been been jailed for eight months for stealing more than �13,000 from the post office.

Alan Patrick, 57, ran the Great Witchingham Post Office and a satellite post office at Attlebridge, for 11 years and stole the cash over a three to four-year period as he struggled to pay his personal bills, including a �3,000 tax demand, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Sebastian Sayer, prosecuting on behalf of the Post Office said that the thefts were discovered following an audit in September last year, when it was discovered that a total of 13,608 was missing.

Mr Sayer said that Patrick admitted the thefts and said it started when he got a tax bill to pay and had used cash from the post office intending to pay back any money he borrowed as he was struggling to run the business.

The court heard that since the matter came to light, he has tried to sell the business so as to pay the money back but the post office was ram-raided which meant a sale fell through and he is now hoping the property will be sold at auction.

Patrick who lived at the post office on Fakenham Road, admitted the thefts.

Jailing him, Recorder Guy Ayers said it had been a breach of trust: 'You systematically stole from the post office and the manner of stealing required a degree of thought and planning on your part.'

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However, he accepted he was a 57-year-old man of previous good character who people spoke highly of, but said there was no option but to jail him for the offences to send out a deterrent.

Jonathon Morgans, for Patrick said: 'This defendant fully intends to repay the money.'

He said that Patrick had made efforts to sell the business so he could repay the cash.

'A sale was agreed in February this year and then the premises was ramraided.'

He said the sale fell through and it was now going to be sold at auction.

'This is a terribly sad case,' added Mr Morgans.

He said Patrick had stole because of pressures of running his own business: 'This defendant will never offend again.'

Mr Morgans handed in several references speaking highly of Patrick and described him as 'one of the pillars of the community.'

He said Patrick always expected to be found out: 'He was always expecting the call and when it came he was completely co-operative.'

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