Shopkeeper faces jail for theft debt

A JUDGE has warned a shopkeeper who stole more than £15,000 from the Post Office he faces jail after admitting he could not afford to pay back the cash and almost £20,000 in costs.

Laurence Cawley

A JUDGE has warned a shopkeeper who stole more than £15,000 from the Post Office he faces jail after admitting he could not afford to pay back the cash and almost £20,000 in costs.

In April last year Kevin Howells, 41, was spared a prison sentence after admitting using lottery takings to subsidise the shop he ran alongside the post office in Acton, near Sudbury.

The court was told how Howells had struggled to keep the post office running and had ended up “out of his depth”.

At the time, Judge Neil McKittrick ordered Howells to pay £16,503 compensation to the Post Office, £14,000 prosecution costs and £4,810 towards his own defence costs.

He was also instructed to carry out 250 hours of community service.

Most Read

But yesterday Howells, who still runs the shop in Acton, appeared before District Judge David Cooper, sitting at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court, claiming he would not be able to pay back the money he owes by the April 23 deadline.

He was told he should expect prison if he was unable to pay.

Howells said: “I am here to say I won't be in a position to pay. I'm following the advice of the Citizens Advice Bureau and probation to come and see you before the time (April 23).”

He said he and his wife had been unable to set any money aside to save up to put towards his court bill of more than £30,000. But the father-of-one added he had tried his best to meet the terms of his sentence.

“I was given 250 hours' community service and I've done that. There was never ever any way I was going to be able to pay. I'm an ordinary man in the street.”

Judge Cooper said Howells was “not quite” an ordinary man in the street stressing: “You did steal an awful lot of money from the Post Office.

“There's nothing I can do about it. That is what your barrister told the judge you were going to do, so you are going to have to do it. If you can't, you'll have to go to prison. I can't override a crown court judge's decision. I don't mean to sound threatening or anything - there's not a lot I can do.”

Judge Cooper will hear the case and see more details about Howells' financial position when he sits at Ipswich Magistrates' Court on April 23.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter