An alcoholic postman who hoarded more than 31,000 parcels and letters has not been sent to prison so he can care for his disabled wife and daughter.
Steve Tasker (43) was often too drunk to complete his rounds, but had every intention of delivering the items, thousands of which he stashed in plastic bags in and behind his garden shed.
At Burnley Crown Court, Tasker, of Eastham Street, Burnley, admitted interfering with mail between March 2007 and September 2010, damage, and theft between August and September last year. He was given 32 weeks in prison, suspended for a year, with 12 months’ supervision, alcohol treatment and the Thinking Skills programme.
The hearing was told Tasker, who is asthmatic, had a tough time at home, looking after his wife and daughter who are both disabled, almost single-handedly. Recorder Philip Grundy said if Tasker was locked up, she and their daughter would be the ones to suffer.
John Gibson (prosecuting for Royal Mail) said on September 15th last year, Tasker, who had been a postman for 12 years, was put under surveillance after complaints about mail not being delivered. At 4-30 p.m., officers looked in his pouch box and found 331 items of post he should have delivered that day.
Officers searched his home and found 15,253 postal packets in the house, some of which dated to March 2007. A further 15,831 items were found in and behind the garden shed. About 1,000 packets were water damaged and 43 greetings card-type letters had been opened and £200 stolen, between August and September last year.
Mr Gibson said it cost Royal Mail £1,530 to sort out the postal packets and deliver them with an apology. Tasker had paid this out of his pension fund.
Mark Stuart (defending) said the vast majority of the post was unopened. Tasker undoubtedly had a drink problem, health difficulties, family commitments and had been struggling to cope. His wife had cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a weakness on one side of her body. Their daughter attended a special school.
The Royal Mail knew about his alcohol problem, a meeting had been held and he had been told not to drink alcohol before work. Mr Stuart said Tasker had intended to deliver the mail at some point. “But, tomorrow never came,” he added.
Recorder Grundy said the fact Tasker did not burn the post revealed his confused state of mind and lack of a sophisticated approach to the offences.
There’s more on this story in Friday’s Express