A FORMER Royal Mail worker has been jailed for stealing more than £60,000 worth of jewellery and watches from the company.

Keith Tate, 52, of Buckland Close, worked in the Dorcan Sorting Office as a revenue protection officer and was responsible for checking parcels had been paid for correctly.

Over a period of more than 18 months he would open packages he knew would contain high value goods before selling the items through his Ebay account.

Targeting packages from two firms in particular, Tate took jewellery worth just over £61,500 from Albemarle Bond, one of the country’s largest pawn brokers.

Watches to the value of £2,200 were also taken from packages being sent by Citizen Watches.

The full length of time Tate was carrying out his crime cannot be exactly established but he was arrested in August last year and police were able to look on his computer to see he had been carrying out the thefts since December 2011.

When arrested he admitted to what he had done and has sought to pay back some of the money.

When police arrived at his house they seized £1,900 in cash.

On top of that, Tate, who had worked for Royal Mail since 1989 and had a faultless disciplinary prior to the arrest, has also sold his house and pay back £25,000.

However, at Swindon Crown Court on Friday, Judge Douglas Field said he had no choice but to send Tate to jail and imposed a 16-month prison sentence, despite a plea for it to be suspended.

He said: “You have admitted to two counts of theft while you were in a position with a high degree of trust and over a number of months you selected packages you knew contained jewellery and watches before attempting to sell them on Ebay.

“There is no excuse for such blatant dishonesty. I give you maximum credit for pleading guilty and for the amount which has been repaid but that is not sufficient for me to suspend the sentence.

“Royal Mail relies on its reputation for being able to deliver packages on time and you jeopardised that.”

Both Albemarle Bond and Citizen Watches applied for compensation but as Tate is now penniless he is not in a position to pay. Royal Mail declined to comment on the case.