TWO former Toowoomba post employees stole mail and opened parcels filled with Christmas presents and gift cards; and now they're going to jail.
Jonathan Charles Byers was contracted by Australia Post in 2011 and was responsible for some mail runs in the Toowoomba area.
Soon after he was put in charge, mail started going missing and police later found thousands of pieces of mail, unopened or opened, in his back shed.
He had also employed Keri-Ann Long, his co-accused, to help with the runs.
At Brisbane District Court on Wednesday they were both sentenced to jail for stealing mail between October 2011 and June 2013.
Long pleaded guilty to stealing the mail and Byers was found guilty after a trial.
Judge Deborah Richards said a lot of the mail they stole was from particularly busy periods during Christmas 2011 and 2012.
She said when police searched Byers's house and shed, they uncovered 9296 unopened mail articles and 1602 opened items, which included Christmas cards and parcels and gift cards.
Mail was also found at Long's house and in the boot of her car.
At trial, Byers claimed he did not know any mail had been taken and that Long was solely responsible and hid the mail in his shed without his knowledge.
Long claimed she did not secrete the mail but that she had handed it back to Byers when she could not deliver it.
But Judge Richards said neither of these arguments should be accepted.
She also said the pair had a close relationship.
"It's clear from the amount of unopened mail that the motivation for the theft was more that you were unable to cope with the amount of mail that needed to be delivered rather than a plan to steal the contents generally," Judge Richards said.
"Although there is clearly an element of theft in the opening of parcels and Christmas cards, namely items likely to hold money, gift cards, or other desirable items."
Long was sentenced to two years jail and Byers was sentenced to three years.
"People rely on the mail delivery system and the honesty of the people delivering it," Judge Richards said.
Long will be released after serving eight months and Byers will be released after serving 18 months behind bars. - ARM NEWSDESK