A PERSISTENT thief from Cwmavon took a huge haul of mail after sneaking into a postal depot in the dead of night, a court has heard.
Richard Cook was seen pushing more than one large trolley full of parcels away from the building.
The parcels have ever been recovered.
The 36-year-old has more than 100 previous offences on his record, and sending him down a judge branded him a “persistent and relentless offender”.
Megan Jones, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court the burglary happened on the night of October 28 this year at the Royal Mail depot in Neath town centre.
She said at around 11pm three people were seen to approach the van entrance to the depo, and while one of the trio stayed outside the other two walked in through the open shutters.
The two intruders later emerged pushing wheeled cages – known as Yorkies – of parcels and carrying a large sack, and disappeared into the night.
The theft was discovered later that night when staff realised two of their Yorkies were missing.
Police were called and when officers viewed CCTV footage they recognised the defendant from their previous dealings with him.
The identities of the other two people involved in the incident remain unknown.
Cook was arrested three days later when he was spotted walking through Neath town centre.
The prosecutor said it was not possible to give a figure for the number of parcels stolen, nor the value of what they may have contained.
Richard Mark Andrew Cook, of Brynglas Avenue, had previously pleaded guilty to non-dwelling burglary and to a count of theft – relating to the shoplifting of perfume from the Savers shop on Green Street in Neath committed on the same day as the burglary – when he appeared for sentencing.
He has 51 previous convictions for 104 offences, the majority of which are for matters of dishonesty and acquisitive crimes.
James Hartson, for Cook, accepted that the pre-sentence report on the defendant made for “miserable reading”. He said at the time of the offending the father-of-six had been in the grip of an “uncontrollable and hopeless addiction to crack cocaine” but while being held on remand awaiting sentence had begun to take positive steps in his life including completing a number of courses on drug and alcohol misuse.
He said to send Cook to prison for what – on the sentencing guidelines – would be only a relatively short period before releasing him back into the community without support would be to send him back to the beginning of the cycle of addiction and offending.
Judge Geraint Walters told Cook he had had the gall to walk out of the Royal Mail depot with a haul of parcels which he no doubt then rummaged through looking for anything of value to steal.
He said the defendant had an appalling antecedent record, and he told the man in the dock: “You don’t work; you take drugs; you rely on the state to house you, feed you, and keep you warm – and how do you repay the community… By being a persistent and relentless offender.”
With a discount for his guilty pleas Cook was sentenced to a total of 12 months in prison comprising eight months for burglary and four months for the shoplifting to run consecutively.
He will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.