A POSTMAN stole hundreds of pounds from letters and greetings cards — and was caught after Royal Mail set a trap of marked money.

Timothy Hayes, 38, of Landguard Road, Shanklin, was prosecuted by Royal Mail and admitted three counts of stealing from mailbags between August and November, 2018.

The charges amounted to 203 packages containing money totalling £620.

He appeared at the Isle of Wight Crown Court for sentencing last Thursday.

Prosecutor Wesley Potterton said Hayes had worked for Royal Mail for almost nine years. Suspicions were raised at Southampton mail centre when they noticed 150 packages had been opened while Hayes was on duty.

During a period when he was on light duties, no packages came through opened, but the offences started re-occurring when Hayes was back on postal collection duties again.

Royal Mail hid money in some packages and marked them, so they could be tracked, and Hayes was found with the items in his possession.

Mr Potterton said: "Firstly he denied it, but when he was told about the marked money and that it had been tracked, he admitted he had been stealing.

"This theft relates to a number of people as hundreds of letters were received open and money removed."

Jonathan Underhill, for Hayes, said he was of previous good character but his financial situation snowballed.

He got into 'significant' debt and his mother was in ill health

Mr Underhill said Hayes was 'deeply remorseful, ashamed and sickened' by his actions and was not at risk of reoffending. He resigned from Royal Mail and had found work since as a Tesco delivery driver. Mr Underhill said the supermarket was aware of the conviction.

Hayes agreed to use his Royal Mail pension fund to pay Royal Mail's costs.

He received a ten-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He must undertake 80 hours of unpaid work and attend 15 rehabilitation days.

He was also ordered to pay a £140 surcharge.