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Postbox thief spared jail... because Royal Mail were late; CASE TOOK THREE YEARS TO COME TO COURT.

BY ELWYN ROBERTS ATHIEF whole stole dozens of postboxes was spared jail - because of Royal Mail delays in bringing the case to court.

Mark Crowther admitted stealing, or attempting to steal, 37 of the metal boxes worth more than PS11,000, and selling the ones he successfully took on eBay.

His crimes, which left Royal Mail with a PS26,000 bill for replacements, put him in line for a prison sentence, but it had taken three years to bring the case to court.

Mold Crown Court heard he had first been "on the radar" as a suspect in 2014, . Judge Niclas Parry said he accepted no mail had been stolen but the offences had an "impact" on rural communities and their way of life.

Crowther, who had previous convictions for 36 offences including two for handling stolen goods, pleaded guilty and it was almost three years since his offences.

During that time he had "transformed his life", had a young family and was in regular, well-paid employment.

Judge Parry said the delay was not Crowther's fault. He gave him a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 16 months and ordered him to carry out 300 hours unpaid work in the community.

"In the circumstances it would be a nonsense to send you into custody bearing in mind you should have been dealt within 2014 or 2015," he said.

The judge told Crowther, 37, of Linden Avenue, Chirk: "You were stealing post boxes that were located where they were because they were providing a service to rural communities."

Douglas Lloyd, prosecuting, said Crowther stole 33 boxes and attempted to steal another four across Wrexham, Flintshire and Shropshire between 2012 and 2014. All the offences took place within a 22-mile radius of his home.

Crowther was first identified as a suspect in April 2014 when he was convicted of damaging a post box and some incriminating items were found at his home.

Tools which would have been required to carry out the thefts were found along with a post box.

He gave a no comment interview on two occasions when arrested for the thefts.

His computer and phone were seized and they showed he had searched for postbox locations and their locking mechanisms, and evidence emerged he had sold postboxes on eBay.

Judge Parry said he had heard of late post but asked why it had taken so long to come to court.

Mr Lloyd said there had been a substantial investigation into the defendant and others, involving a larger area going back to 2010, but said he conceded there had been delays in the case.

Crowther's thefts in Wrexham were at Whitehurst, Wynnstay, Knolton Bryn, Overton station, Forest Road, Mount Pleasant, Chirk station, Bersham, Bryn Common, Red Hall Lane, Althrey, Ninth Avenue, Cock Bank, Llangar, Bryn Villa, Bowling Bank, Holly Bush Lane, Eglwys and Wynstay Road.

In Shropshire, he stole postboxes from Shrewsbury, Ellesmere, Whitchurch, Bronygarth and Oswestry.

Crowther also struck in Cadole, near Mold, and his attempted thefts were at Forest Road, Croes, Wynnstay and Bryn Place - all in Wrexham.

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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Dec 28, 2017
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