Sub postmistress who stole �10k spared jail

A SUB post mistress who stole more than �10,000 from a small, community post office in rural Essex has escaped an immediate jail term.

James Hore

A SUB post mistress who stole more than �10,000 from a small, community post office in rural Essex has escaped an immediate jail term.

Jane Jervis was in charge of Toppesfield Post Office, near Halstead and began thieving from the till in order to pay household bills and her daughter's university rent, Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday.

The 51-year-old had been in fear of her criminal activity being discovered and immediately admitted stealing the money when Royal Mail auditors arrived in August last year.

Jervis of Church Lane, Toppesfield, had already admitted one charge of stealing �10,519 when she appeared at an earlier hearing.

The mother-of-two was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence yesterday, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work in the community.

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Adam Harbinson, prosecuting for the Royal Mail, said Jervis had worked as a sub postmistress from August 2006 and her responsibilities included managing the accounts.

When auditors arrived in August last year, she confessed to stealing the money and had kept a record of the money she had stolen next to the till.

Mr Harbinson said the theft “eroded” public confidence in the Royal Mail.

Lynne Shirley, defending, acknowledged that the seriousness of the offence did cross the custody threshold, admitting the theft had been a serious breach of trust.

However, she said Jervis had co-operated fully with investigators and made “full admissions” during interview.

“For about four years she worked for the Port Office, during that time her record was impeccable; there were no disciplinary proceedings, no causes for concern.

“The reason it happened was out of desperation, not in order to fund a lavish lifestyle in anyway,” she said.

Miss Shirley said the family was short of money and Jervis started taking the cash to pay the bills.

She said when Jervis started stealing, she would initially pay it back - but as time passed and bills mounted, she was not able to pay all the funds back.

“She was living on borrowed time and always knew that this would be discovered,” she said.

Jervis paid back the full amount after her mother agreed to write out a cheque to cover the stolen funds.

Sentencing, Recorder John Foy QC, said: “I expect and hope that this whole process has been a lesson to you.

“We don't want to see you again.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk