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Anger and pity in a community betrayed by dishonesty.

People in Allenheads last night gave a mixed reaction to the news that their former postmistress had been jailed for six months.

Some voiced anger at the length of the prison sentence, claming Shaftoe had dealt the remote 200-resident village a body blow by robbing it of its only shop and post office.

Others said they felt more pity than anger for her as she had the betrayal of the community on her conscience.

Allenheads Post Office and shop has been closed for a year, causing problems for local pensioners and other villagers who can no longer buy groceries and other goods there.

Last night one villager, who asked not to be named, said: "I believe the general consensus here is that people feel hurt because we rallied round to support her after the alleged robbery only to find out she had pleaded guilty to doing it herself.

"In effect, she has robbed the village of the post office and shop. Six months is no sort of sentence when you consider what she did and the amount of money involved. I am gobsmacked by that because she will only serve two or three months."

Keith Walker chairs the Allenheads Trust, which owns the shop building and is trying to get someone interested in taking the business over. He said: "What Carole did came as a huge surprise because everyone knew her in such a small community.

"People think what she did was foolish but she has had her medical problems and I think the general feeling is pity rather than anger. I was at a party last weekend which she and her family also attended and I didn't detect much hostility towards her."

Margaret Stonehouse, who represents the Allenheads and Allendale area on Tynedale Council, said: "Carole did something wrong and now she is paying for it but we have lost the post office and shop because of it...

"I don't know anyone who holds real malice against her and a lot of people feel she has already been punished by having all of this on her conscience."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 3, 2005
Words:348
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