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Mail thief stole from birthday cards to pay gambling debt

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A former postal worker could face prison after stealing cash from birthday cards to pay off a gambling debt, a court heard.

Stephen Brown, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft amounting to £140 at Exeter magistrates court.

The Newton Poppleford man, who had worked for Royal Mail for more than five years, was caught earlier this year by investigators following complaints greetings cards had been tampered with.

Prosecutor Nicholas Bradley said on September 9 test packages were used to detect possible theft at Exeter mail centre, and after noticing the defendant acting suspiciously the investigators confronted him, finding £45 in cash on his person.

Brown admitted he had stolen the money upon interview, and a search of his car revealed a further £95 in cash he had taken from postal packets over the previous fortnight.

His solicitor Vanessa Francis told the court he had gambling debts with no way to pay the money back, so began stealing from cards during nightshifts sorting through mail.

She revealed Brown, a family man who lived with his partner and two children in Hillside, had also become addicted to marijuana to relieve back pain.

He and his partner are running up debts and his solicitor said he was in a downward spiral over the summer.

Miss Francis added he is thankful he was caught when he was, maintaining he has since kicked his drug habit, but has resigned from his position with Royal Mail

But magistrates on Friday said they were treating the matter very seriously, and ordered a report from the probation service ahead of sentencing.

Brown was warned the report would look at all options, including the potential for him to be committed to crown court and a possible custodial sentence, deeming his theft to be a serious breach of trust.

He was given unconditional bail to appear before magistrates again on December 15.

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