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John Woodhouse was caught after a tracking device was placed on a parcel

An ex-postman from Northern Ireland who has been described as “a very keen cyclist” has been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after stealing packages in the mail containing cycling products.

John Woodhouse, aged 43 and from Cushendall, County Antrim, had earlier pleaded guilty at Ballymena Magistrates’ Court to theft of mail in transmission, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

He stole the packages from the Royal Mail Ballymena Delivery Office between 10 June 2016 and 8 August 2017. He did not use the products or sell them on, but kept them in his car and at his home.

"This is a gross breach of trust,” district judge Peter King told him. “You were employed as a postal delivery man.

"I struggle to see a greater breach of trust than a postman stealing the mail.

"In order for the public to have confidence in the postal system, those who operate it have to have the utmost integrity."

Woodhouse was caught when a tracking device was put on a package from a business related to cycling, with investigators able to ascertain that it was taken from the sorting office at the same time as Woodhouse left the premises.

Speaking in mitigation on behalf of Woodhouse, barrister Neil Moore admitted that his client had committed a "gross breach of trust" but emphasised that he had made "full and frank admissions."

He added that Woodhouse had expressed “extreme regret” at his actions, which happened while he was suffering from depression following a bereavement, and that all goods stolen had been recovered.

Woodhouse has reportedly been released on bail of £500 pending an appeal.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.