A former postman who binned mail to shorten his round so he could tend to his sick mother has received a six months suspended sentence.
Wicklow resident Derek Thompson (58) was fired from his "unblemished" 34 year career at An Post for dumping mainly marketing material addressed to residents on his delivery route.
Detective Garda Gerard Doyle revealed that among this pile of marketing material, there were two letters about medical appointments. The court heard neither addressee missed out on these appointments.
Thompson, of The Fairways, Woodbrook Glen, Bray, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four charges of preventing the delivery of a postal package without the agreement of the addressee at Old Bray Road, Cabinteely, Dublin, on dates between November 10 and 15, 2016.
He has no previous convictions.
Det Gda Doyle told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting that a county council worker had been emptying bins in Cabinteely village when he noted that the refuse bag was heavy.
He looked in and saw about 100 letters, many of them soiled from being in the bin. The court heard that An Post identified the delivery route the letters had been on and staff observed Thompson dump more items into a bin in Cabinteely on a later date.
Det Gda Doyle said besides the two medical appointments and a letter enclosing money-off vouchers for a store, the rest of the mail had been brochures and charity letters soliciting donations.
The detective agreed with Patrick Reynolds BL, defending, that his client had a previously "unblemished" work history with An Post and would unlikely come before the courts again.
Mr Reynolds submitted to Judge Melanie Greally that Thompson had understood what he was dumping had been advertising mail. He said his client had wanted to go and help his elderly mother and had cut his delivery time short.
Counsel submitted that this was a stupid thing to do and a serious breach of trust for the mail system, but he asked the judge to take into account Thompson's personal circumstances.
Judge Greally said the public has to be able to place confidence in members of the postal service to deliver mail and that it was not open to any individual to filter post.
She accepted that ultimately there was no harm done in the case and that nobody suffered. She noted that Thompson had "paid a very high price for his folly" in losing his job of 34 years.
She placed the offence at the lower end of the scale and suspended the six month sentence for six months.