Postmaster jailed after staging raids
A FORMER postmaster has been convicted of stealing more than £26,000 after faking raids at his village store. Graham Westley, 40, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday after a jury found him guilty of taking the money and staging two raids as a cover-up at the Hacheston Post Office, near Woodbridge.
A FORMER postmaster has been convicted of stealing more than £26,000 after faking raids at his village store.
Graham Westley, 40, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday after a jury found him guilty of taking the money and staging two raids as a cover-up at the Hacheston Post Office, near Woodbridge.
Westley, who now lives in Church Road, Wicken, near Ely, had admitted to the court he had got into debt while running a pub in Framlingham and owed more than £20,000 to Customs and Excise for unpaid VAT.
Judge Alastair Darroch said: "You haven't done yourself any favours by denying these matters in the face of overwhelming evidence against you. Under the circumstances a prison sentence of some length is all that can be given.
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"There is no excuse for this conduct, considerable sums of money were stolen when you were in a position of trust. You also put the public to considerable expense and wasted valuable police time."
The court had previously heard how Westley, who was joint manager at the store, claimed he had been tied up with tape by two intruders who stole £14,053 from a safe during a robbery on May 23 last year.
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However, forensic scientists who examined the tape couldn't find any fibres on it from a jumper he was wearing. Neither could they find any hairs from the back of his wrists.
Westley also claimed that five months later burglars had broken into the Post Office through a window and stole £12,750.
However, police investigators found that long grass outside the window had not been trampled down and there was no evidence of foot marks on the window sill.
In addition, a forensic scientist found that a metal grill at the window had been cut from the inside with a pair of bolt croppers found at Westley's home.
Westley had denied two charges of stealing £14,053 and £12,750 from the Post Office and two offences of trying to pervert the course of justice by lying to police about the raids.
Detective Chief Inspector Phil Aves said: "We treat all robbery incidents very seriously and will thoroughly investigate them, leaving no stone unturned.
"Through forensic enquiries we can establish whether the crime has been committed as described. In this case we were able to disprove the offence, which led to a comprehensive investigation against those who reported it.
"Raising the fear of crime by these false reports does nothing to reduce public concern and we hope residents in Hacheston will feel reassured by the fact that these robberies did not take place as originally described."
Ian Pells, senior crown prosecutor in the case, added: "Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence that can lead to police and prosecution resources being wasted on fictitious crimes.
"The police in this case were alert and thorough in their investigation and accordingly allowed the best possible evidence to be gathered and a complete and robust case to be presented."
A spokesman for the Post Office said: "We cannot really comment on individual cases but needless to say we take matters of security very seriously."