A PARCEL delivery driver who fell on hard times started opening some of the parcels and stealing their contents, including items intended as Christmas gifts.
Sara Louise Eccleston, 27, sold xboxes and other such items on eBay or at car boot sales.
The mother of three was caught when she left her home because of rent arrears and a neighbour saw a large number of boxes and bags that were not addressed to her in the back garden.
Police were alerted and an investigation was carried out.
It turned out that Eccleston, a self-employed courier working for the Hermes parcel company, had stolen 68 parcels between September, 2011 and January, 2012 – the bulk before Christmas.
Flintshire Magistrates Court heard yesterday the value of the items was estimated at just under £2,000.
When she moved from her rented accommodation at Penial Fawr, Llanfynydd, she also took with her five internal wooden panelled doors valued at £750, which belonged to the landlord Malcolm Edge.
Eccleston, now of Warren Drive, Broughton, admitted two theft charges and was placed on a 12 month community order, under which she must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
Eccleston, now unemployed and said to be £30,000 in debt, was ordered to pay £500 compensation to the Hermes company at £5 a week.
Magistrates were told the doors had been recovered.
The court heard Eccleston, who had no previous convictions, was employed as a courier to deliver parcels, mostly from internet shopping, and was issued with a bar coded machine which showed if a parcel was delivered.
If, after three attempts, a parcel could not be delivered it should be returned to the company.
When she was arrested and interviewed, she initially denied she had stolen anything but when the evidence was put to her she became upset and admitted what she had done.
Phillip Lloyd Jones, defending, said Eccleston and her partner had at the time split up which had an impact on the family finances.
She was self-employed basis but she received 35p for delivering a small package, 45p for a medium sized package and 65p for a large one which bearing in mind the cost of fuel and running a vehicle was not hugely rewarding.
She was coming under pressure over the rent, council tax and heating bills.
"Things got on top of her," he said. “For a person of good character, she imploded.”
She had access to various items and sadly she fell to the temptation of taking undelivered items home and selling the contents for her own benefit.
Eccleston had written a letter to the court in which she expressed her shame and remorse.
She had not done it to live any high life but because of the desperate financial situation she was in at the time, Mr Lloyd Jones explained.
Eccleston had since been reconciled with her partner and she was being referred to various agencies to try to help out with the debt problems.
It was clearly not sophisticated and she did not even get rid of the packaging, Mr Lloyd Jones said.