Norfolk postie defrauded Royal Mail

David BaleA former Norfolk sub-postmistress has been jailed for 40 weeks suspended for 18 months after she defrauded the Royal Mail out of nearly �19,000.David Bale

A former Norfolk sub-postmistress has been jailed for 40 weeks suspended for 18 months after she defrauded the Royal Mail out of nearly �19,000.

Siobhan Sayer, 44, was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work when she appeared for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, after pleading guilty to false accounting at an earlier hearing.

The mother-of-three, who is also a foster mother to a 16-year-old, however continued to deny that she had pocketed the �19,000 herself.

The court heard the offence came to light when an audit was carried out at Erpingham Post Office, near Aylsham, on January 18, 2008, and �18,977 was found to be missing from the accounts.

The court heard the accounts had been falsified over a period of about four years, which worked out at about �400 a month, although the exact amounts and dates were not disclosed in court.

Mr Recorder Wilson QC told Sayer: 'That deficiency had been systematically covered up over the previous months and years by you as you were responsible for preparing the monthly accounts.

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'You had consistently overstated the amount taken that week. The manner in which this money was taken and who took it has not been admitted by you or explained by the prosecution.

'However, the fact is that the money was missing and you have admitted false accounting. You were either covering up for someone else or were taking the money yourself. Either way you were in breach of your position of trust.'

Prosecutor Neil Griffin told the court that Sayer, from The Street, Lamas, near Coltishall, had been the sub-postmistress at Erpingham for about seven and half years.

He said in her first interview with police she admitted false accounting and inflating the 'cash on hand' figures at the post office, but in a second interview she denied any wrongdoing.

In mitigation, Katherine Moore said Sayer was of previous good character and was now a foster mother. 'She conducts herself in a thoroughly positive way,' she said. 'She does not accept she pocketed the shortfall, however she accepts she miscounted and sent in false returns.'

Miss Moore said Sayer had suffered from post-natal depression and depression for many years.

An order for costs to be paid by the defendant will be assessed at a later date.

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