Directors cheated Royal Mail out of £8,000 after firm was in ‘dire straits’

editorial image
  • Company directors used postage stickers but were not paying for them
  • They defrauded Royal Mail by £8,494, the court heard
Have your say

TWO men cheated more than £8,000 out of the Royal Mail as their business was in ‘dire straits’, a court heard.

James Burford and Mark King subscribed to a service with Royal Mail called printed postage impressions that allowed them to print out stickers to use on post.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard the pair’s account they used for internet firm Compass Aquatics Limited was suspended, but they still used the stickers.

It meant they were posting packages to customers without paying .

James Tyler, prosecuting, said in total the men defrauded Royal Mail of £8,494.

He said: ‘They used the Royal Mail to deliver the items sold.

I’d like to offer to pay it back

Mark King

‘The company had an account.

‘They declared the amount of postage they were using, paid for it, then used stickers to put on packaging.

‘Early in July 2014 that account was suspended because of difficulties.’

He added: ‘Both defendants continued to print off the stickers without declaring the postage.

‘Over time the Royal Mail realised this was occurring, launched an investigation and in December 2014 both defendants were arrested.’

In interview, King said Burford had asked him to stop using the stickers, Mr Tyler told the court.

In his interview Burford said he challenged King and told him ‘this has to stop’ and King had agreed.

‘Mr Burford accepted he took special delivery items to the post office but thought Mr King had sorted it out,’ Mr Tyler added.

Evidence found by Royal Mail showed Burford texted King saying ‘they don’t cost us anything’ to which King replied ‘lol’.

But Henry Farley, defending Burford, said: ‘With respect to him he was out of his depth.

‘There was no motivation to gain or get fat on it or have an unwarranted luxurious lifestyle. It was a business in dire straits.’

Mr Farley added Burford was trying to keep the firm ‘above water’ and was trying to pay everyone owed cash rather than go bankrupt.

Mr King was unrepresented as he said the Legal Aid Agency had a backlog and had not completed his request for representation.

He said: ‘I’d like to offer to pay it back.’

He said he was a carer for his wife, who has depression.

Burford, 45, of Hill Drive, Fareham, and King, 54, of Creek Road, Hayling Island, pleaded guilty to obtaining services dishonestly between July 28 and December 17 last year.

Chairman of the magistrates Andy Dunning sent the case to Portsmouth Crown Court for sentence and for confiscation proceedings.