UNITED KINGDOM – A delivery driver at Parcelforce’s national hub in Coventry stole packages containing mobile phones and other items worth more than £14,000 to fund a gambling habit.
But William Muringani originally from Zimbabwe was trapped after he was recorded taking a tote box from another loading bay’s conveyor belt and putting it on his own trailer.
And at the crown court in Leamington last December he pleaded guilty to four charges of stealing Royal Mail tote boxes containing a total of 42 postal packets.
Muringani, 31, of Watersmeet Road, Stoke Heath, Coventry, was jailed for 20 months.
John Dove, prosecuting on behalf of the Royal Mail, said that Muringani worked through a courier company as a driver based at Parcelforce Worldwide’s national distribution hub in Coventry.
Part of the Royal Mail, Parcelforce operates an express parcel network with timed deliveries which also includes a secure tote box service for higher value items such as mobile phones.
“Customers pay a premium price for this service, which is the parcels equivalent of special delivery.
“Such parcels end up in a distinctive yellow tote box which is placed on trailers for delivery to relevant depots all over the UK, always at the back of the trailer so it can be one of the first items offloaded.”
But on December 4 last year a secured tote box containing nine parcels worth £1,910 did not arrive at its destination hub in Hereford.
A CCTV recording from the loading bay was viewed, and it showed the yellow box being handed to the driver of a vehicle in loading bay 55 who was identified as Muringani.
A month later on January 1 this year a further three tote boxes were reported missing, one to the London South-East depot with one parcel and two to Rotherham with a total of 32 parcels,” said Mr Dove.
“Footage was viewed again and the defendant was seen loading into his vehicle for delivery to London South-East.
“There should not have been any for any other depot, but the recording showed him removing two items from the Rotherham delivery trailer and putting them in his vehicle.”
So a test was carried out three days later, with three tote boxes being prepared for delivery to Rotherham, two of which were put on the Rotherham trailer and one on the conveyor belt leading to it.
Just after midnight Muringani was seen to reverse up to his own loading bay and load his vehicle with the correct parcels.
“But he was then seen to leave bay 60 and walk to 61 and take the tote box from the conveyor belt and put it into his own vehicle. He then left, but was intercepted at the departure gate.”
In the driver’s door of his vehicle was an unopened i-Phone, while at his home a Samsung phone was found by his bed and a number of empty phone boxes were also found.
A check of the serial numbers showed the i-Phone was the item in the box which should have been delivered to London, while the Samsung was one of 13 destined for Rotherham.
But despite the CCTV evidence Muringani denied any form of dishonesty, claiming he must have loaded the tote box from the Rotherham conveyor belt that night by mistake.
Ian Speed, defending, argued that a pre-sentence report on Muringani was ‘realistic’ and that although the case crossed the custody threshold, the sentence could be suspended.
“The root of the problem is his gambling. But he has ceased gambling and is attending Gamblers Anonymous twice a week. He would really welcome the support of the probation service.”
Mr Speed added that Muringani’s wife is an NHS nurse, and he now acts as carer for their three children.
But jailing him, Recorder Jason MacAdam told Muringani: “You don’t have a long record compared to some, but your convictions are telling.
“You have been before the court on several occasions, always for matters of dishonesty, and in particular for obtaining by deception, and now for stealing from your employer.
“Mr Speed has said everything he could on your behalf, but the fact is that over £14,000 worth of goods were entrusted to you and were taken by you from your employer. That is in gross breach of trust.” Coventry Telegraph