Couple jailed after stealing �76,000 from post office

A FORMER Bradwell sub-postmaster and his estranged wife who stole �76,000 from a post office they used to run have been given jail terms totalling more than three years.

Robert Humphrey, 53, and his ex-wife Jacqueline, 45, both worked at Bradwell Post Office and both admitted stealing cash between September 2006 and April 2008.

The total amount stolen, �76,061.16, was only agreed following a two-day hearing in December after Robert Humphrey disputed the amount the Post Office said was taken.

Both appeared last week at Norwich Crown Court to be sentenced. Sentencing Robert Humphrey to 27 months, half of which will be served in prison with the remainder on licence, Judge Alasdair Darroch said he had been “entrusted with looking after what was effectively public money”.

Jailing Jacqueline Humphrey for 18 months, half of which will be served in prison with the remainder on licence, he said it had been a “long course of dishonesty” adding that when she was interviewed it had to be “squeezed out of you”.

Tom Hoskins, prosecuting, said the co-defendants had been involved in a “joint enterprise” which lasted for 19 months and only came to light in 2008 when a business development manager for the Post Office attended the branch on March 31 that year.

He said: “The reason for that was the record available to the Post Office was there was a huge surplus of cash held in the sub-post office. His role was to check that the cash was there and get it back for safe keeping.”

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He discovered a �40,000 cash shortage which led to an investigation which subsequently found that a total of �76,061.16 was missing.

Mr Hoskins said that some of the losses appeared in stock and some in cash but added the full amount taken was in cash.

When interviewed Robert Humphrey, of Park Avenue, Skegness, admitted theft and said the dishonesty started at a time when his wife was experiencing an alcohol addiction although Mr Hoskins said it continued after she had recovered.

The court heard that Jacqueline Humphrey, who had attempted to implicate her ex-husband’s stepson in the theft, was given money each week by her husband although she told interviewers she had taken �100 herself on at least one occasion.

Ian James, mitigating for Robert Humphrey, said his client had become involved in a “joint enterprise” but to his credit accepts responsibility. Mr James said the defendant was “genuinely surprised at the figure” and is remorseful.

He added there had been “no evidence in this case of high living” and said the money was used to try to keep the shop running.

Kevin Batch, mitigating for Jacqueline Humphrey, of Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, said she was “not the instigator of the offence” and had “no intellectual involvement in the commission of the offences” but admitted her part.

He said although she tried to blame her ex-partner’s stepson she was not trying to “avoid her culpability having already admitted her involvement from the off”.

Mr Batch said at the time of the offence she was battling chronic alcoholism and as a result now has problems with her kidneys and liver and was “not a well woman” and was made bankrupt in June last year.

Following the thefts Bradwell Post Office suddenly closed. The post office has reopened at Premier Convenience Store in Church Lane.