A POSTMAN who stashed away 42,000 letters and packages at his home after failing to deliver them has walked free from court.
Spencer Ballinger, who had worked for Royal Mail for four years, caused one resident on his round to be visited by bailiffs and another to miss out on pension payments because of this actions.
Ballinger admitted three charges of delaying and damaging mail, claiming he had become “overwhelmed” with deliveries.
Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard Ballinger’s bedroom was found to be “chock-a-block” with letters when his home was searched and two cars were also stuffed full of mail.
He claimed he had been unable to deliver it all due to back and knee injuries and had planned to catch up with the backlog of 41,874 items he had built up over two years.
Simon Gwynne, prosecuting, said: “He was glad when matters came to light. He said if it had continued it would have killed him.”
Royal Mail bosses launched a covert investigation after receiving complaints about delayed mail from residents in the Burncross, Grenoside and Chapeltown areas of the city, the court heard.
Mr Gwynne said investigators tailed Ballinger – and caught him tipping post into the boot of his car at the end of his shift.
Ballinger was interviewed by hia bosses the next day and told them he was suffering back and knee injuries and had taken the mail home.
“He said he’d planned to reintroduce it at a later stage,” Mr Gwynne added.
“Every time he went into the bedroom – which was chock-a-block with mail – he was aware of the ongoing problem.”
Investigators also found around 1,062 items of junk mail, and 103 opened postal packets. A further 295 items had been damaged because Ballinger, of Rotherham, had tried to shred them.
One of his victims, a Sheffield nurse, was forced to pay a £400 fine for a minor motoring offence which should have cost her just a quarter of the sum because a letter about it was one of thousands withheld by Ballinger.
It led to bailiffs visiting the 34-year-old mum after she mistakenly drove through a bus gate in Sheffield city centre.
She received a £60 fine and £50 administration fee but said she forgot to pay following a family bereavement. Then her final warning letter – marked urgent – was not delivered by Ballinger.
The woman, who did not want to be named, said his sentence seemed lenient.
“I ended up paying £500 instead of the £110 it would have cost originally. It would also have saved me the shame and embarrassment of a bailiff turning up on my doorstep,” she said.
“What was worse was the fact I could see the bailiff didn’t believe me when I told him I’d not had the final warning, and nor did my husband. It was my pride that was hurt more than anything else.”
She added: “The knock-on effects of his actions have been massive for other people. He must have known how important it was that the post was delivered.”
Peter Carder, 64, was also affected, missing out on a better pension deal because his mail wasn’t delivered. He said Ballinger’s dishonesty would cost him a pound a day for the rest of his life.
Prosecutor Mr Gwynne told the court £3,381 in compensation had been recouped from Ballinger’s pension. The investigation had cost Royal Mail £5,470 and £300 in legal costs, he added.
Ballinger’s solicitor Rachel Baldwin told the court the problem had “spiralled out of control” and he had not sought help because he feared he would be sacked.
“He’s not a man driven by greed, he’s a man driven by desperation,” she said. Ballinger was handed a 12-month community order and must carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work and pay £500 costs.