A YOUNG Post Office worker who cheated her bosses out of £8,000 has been spared jail.

Leanne Chrystal, aged 20, of Peel Street, Bolton, used the computer system at a Wigan sub-post office to steal the cash over eight months before she was caught out.

Concerns first arose in May last year about the high level of rejected and spoilt package labels.

It was found that rejected labels were being used for postage and the person using the computer system to issue them was Chrystal.

David Watson, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court on Friday: “The prosecution case is for eight months she was creating a large number of rejected post labels. A corresponding entry for the purchase of stamps would then be used in order to charge the customer, but the rejected labels would be used for the parcels.”

She would put through a sale of stamps for the amount. This was refunded and she pocketed the cash.

The judge, Recorder Bernard Searle, said: “The Post Office relies on thousands of people up and down the country like you to carry out millions of financial transactions each day and that demands honesty and integrity. You breached the trust.”

But he said he accepted the single mum “had little training and may not have been able to cope” with the responsibilities entrusted to her, and added: “I accept you did not attempt to place suspicion on anyone else, have no previous convictions and are a single mother of a very young child.”

Chrystal pleaded guilty to fraud and theft. She was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 12 months. She was also ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and to attend an intensive probation course.

The court heard that Chrystal had been employed as a clerk at the Wigan Lane sub-post office and general store for 18 months at the time an investigation began.

It was found that between May 17 and August 2 a total of 235 postage labels had been created, causing a cash surplus of between £200-£300 a week. This worked out at about £8,000 for the period of her dishonesty.

When interviewed, Chrystal said that rejected labels had occurred accidentally when she was busy. She said they were normally stored on the premises but only 24 were found.

Duncan McDiarmid, defending, said that Chrystal, who has no previous convictions, had been taking home up to £800 a month, which did not indicate her being in a position of great responsibility.

“She is a single mum with a son less than a year old and the offences have cost her her job and she is now living on benefits. She is remorseful and would have repaid the money if she was able to do so,” said Mr McDiarmid.