A judge has allowed a former postman who admitted stealing mail, to skip doing unpaid work as part of his sentence because he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Alan Pattison (55), with an address at Thomas Street, Ballymena, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court this week.
Last September the defendant had been ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and was put on Probation for a year.
He had previously pleaded guilty to stealing post relating to a seven month long period in 2017.
A prosecutor told the court last autumn that police had spoken to the defendant at the Ecos Park in Ballymena and five large grey Royal Mail postal bags of mail containing items addresses to members of the public were found in the boot of his car.
Other items of mail were then located at his address and it was established he was a former postman who had been dismissed two weeks earlier.
Pattison initially tried to claim to police he found the mail bags.
He later pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of items of post.
The court heard the mail bags were found two weeks after Pattison had been sacked “for something else” and the retention of post had predated the dismissal.
Defence barrister Neil Moore told last year’s court it was accepted the offence was a “serious breach” of the trust that is placed upon a postman.
He said Pattison had not been opening the mail and the mail had then been able to be sent on to the intended recipients.
Said Mr Moore: “He didn’t take anything out of the letters or packages. It’s not a case where he opened the envelopes and took money out”.
Asked to explain his actions, the barrister said Pattison told him he “couldn’t cope with the stress of the workload”.
Mr Moore said the defendant had previously worked for London Fire Brigade for 17 years and had developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of having to remove bodies from fires and seeing suicides on ‘Tube’ lines.
The lawyer said at the time counselling was “not encouraged” but that ethos has now changed.
For several years, said Mr Moore, Pattison had undiagnosed PTSD which led to “outbursts of temper” which cost him his job in the Fire Service and as a postman.
Last year, District Judge Nigel Broderick told Pattison: “This was a serious matter. Anyone who interferes with the mail, especially somebody who is charged with delivering it safely, does amount to a breach of trust”.
Normally, said the judge, that would result in a custodial sentence “but everything has a context” and he referred to the contents of a detailed report from a psychiatrist which diagnosed the defendant as having PTSD.
Judge Broderick said that thankfully the mail was returned.
Also last year the judge said he was taking into account the defendant’s previously clear record as he put Pattison on Probation for a year and ordered him to do 100 hours of unpaid work as “recompense for your activity”.
Back at the court on Thursday, Mr Moore said the defendant had been engaging with the Probation element of the Combination Order but had only completed 25 hours of the Community Service.
The court heard Probation officials accepted PTSD was the reason the defendant was unable to complete the unpaid work and they were suggesting that the court removed the other 75 hours.
Judge Broderick said he was satisfied the inability to complete the hours was due to a medical condition and he removed that element but he reminded Pattison that the Probation element continued until September this year.