Postwoman tried to burn deliveries on a barbecue after struggling with work

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A STRUGGLING postwoman hoarded thousands of letters and burned piles of junk mail.

Catherine Marie Kirtley landed a job delivering mail around Houghton, Sunderland magistrates heard.

But five months into her employment, Royal Mail launched an investigation after residents on her round complained their post had not arrived.

The 25-year-old, who suffers from depression, admitted she had not been delivering letters and instead had stashed them at her home in Roker.

Investigations revealed Kirtley, of Gillside Grove, failed to deliver more than 3,700 items of mail between September and December last year.

The court heard how she even piled leaflets on to her barbecue and doused them with fuel in an attempt to torch them.

Around December of that year she tried to set fire to 100 packs which should have been delivered with the post.

Prosecuting for the Royal Mail, Orla Davey said Kirtley, who was previously of good character, claimed she had not been given enough training.

“She said she could not do the job. She said ‘I did not want to keep people’s mail. I did not want to steal it. I just did not know what to do’.

“She delivered one street and took the rest home and hid them in black bags in the garage.”

On one occasion troubled Kirtley was so distraught that she took a quantity of tablets outside her workplace.

Her husband took her to hospital and she was off for about three weeks.

Defending, Heather Bolton passed JPs a letter from Kirtley’s GP, confirming she was battling lifelong depression.

Mrs Bolton said Kirtley was put through one day of training in the office at Royal Mail, and three days on the road with a colleague who was due to go off on maternity leave.

Her round was supposed to run from 9.30am to 2.30pm, but was taking until 5pm to complete.

Mrs Bolton said: “She did raise this with her manager and explained she was not able to do the job.

“They did send someone out to do the job with her to show her it could be done in the requisite time.

“She was not showing up at her work and her husband found out, so she did go back.”

Mrs Bolton added: “She would collect the mail and would deliver some of it, but not all of it, and it was accumulating and got out of control.

“I understand the mail has all been delivered so everyone has received their post, even though it is late.

“The post that was destroyed was advertising leaflets, but she accepts that people did pay the Royal Mail to have their leaflets delivered and they should have been delivered.”

Kirtley admitted criminal damage and an offence under the Postal Services Act.

She was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 court costs and £172.50 compensation.

Twitter: @janethejourno