Mail contractor sacked employee over Xmas complaints

ON learning of federal charges of mail theft being brought against one of his employees, Australia Post delivery contractor Jonathan Charles Byers immediately terminated her employment.

Byers, who has pleaded not guilty to mail theft charges, took to the witness stand after Crown Prosecutor David Henschell closed the Crown's case this morning.

The Toowoomba District Court was told Byers hired the woman - who has since pleaded guilty to mail theft charges in a different court - in November, 2011, shortly after being awarded a mail run for the Highfields area.

Due to the workload, he hired the woman who was given the responsibility of delivering mail around the area, and at first there were no complaints regarding undelivered letters and parcels.

But in January, 2012, after the busy Christmas period, a number of complaints had been registered with Australia Post on which Byers and post managers worked to rectify the issues.

The court was told those measures included changing the woman's delivery run which appeared to stop the complaints.

Despite the complaints, the woman continued to work for Byers until April, 2013, when she was arrested and charged with the federal offence.

Byers fired her from delivering mail but organised for the woman to do gardening work at his Highfields home to pay off money she owed him, the court was told.

Byers told the court he had been in an intimate relationship with the woman for a number of years but that relationship had since stopped.

Character references were called to the stand by defence barrister Robbie Davies who told the court Byers was a trustworthy person who would help a friend in need.

The court also heard from Halina Graham, who said she saw piles of mail inside the woman's home on a number of occasions as well as one opened parcel among at least five others wedged under an entertainment cabinet.

Mrs Graham, a former neighbour and friend of the convicted woman and of Byers, told the court she didn't think it was suspicious that the mail was found in her home and thought it related to her work as a postal delivery driver.

Mrs Graham said she had seen mail inside the woman's car on at least two occasions - once when the woman had locked her young child in the car, and the other when her husband fixed the woman's car after a traffic accident.

She told the court despite the charges, she had hired Byers to work at the RACQ depot in Crows Nest and trusted his character.

The trial continues.



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