Dagenham postmistress stole thousands in bonds

A Dagenham Post Office manager who stole more than �18,000 by issuing fake bonds to herself was spared jail on Friday but told she will repay ‘every penny’.

Jahira Begum, 24, repeatedly issued herself with fictitious postal orders for the maximum �250 before cancelling them.

Begum, of Charlecroft Road, Dagenham, was convicted of theft by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court earlier this month and received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The judge, Mr Recorder James Dawson, told her: “I intend that you repay every penny but I am prepared, as a matter of mercy to you, not to make you serve the inevitable prison sentence straight away.”

She became manager at Porter’s Avenue branch in 2009 and began to steal money from the system by issuing postal orders to fictitious customers.

The slips are similar to pre-paid cheques and can be cashed in for the same amount at any Post Office branch.

Post Office tills, however, take several minutes to update on its computer system and recognise that the postal order had been cancelled.

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During these “windows of opportunity” Begum would cash the bond, which she placed in the till as a receipt, without marking it to indicate it had been cancelled.

The computer would not recognise that the bond had been issued, while the cancelled bond in the till would act as a receipt for the money taken, meaning that the tills still balanced.

Begum issued herself 74 postal orders between May 2009 and January 2010, worth a total of �18,450.

Frances Ibekwe(CORR), for Begum, said: “She is remorseful and ashamed of her behaviour.”

“This was totally out of character and she understands the money must go back.”

Begum was also ordered to carry out 180 hours’ unpaid work and pay �1,000 towards prosecution costs.