A postman who threw away thousands of letters and parcels and hoarded hundreds more has been spared jail despite being told “only custody could be justified”.

Last year Simon Junior Wellington took 2,494 items of post he was supposed to deliver and instead threw some in a skip and the others in a bin near his home in Elmstead, New Addington.

And instead of delivering 866 other pieces of mail he decided to hoard them in his house and car.

Wellington, 26, also took two X Box games he was supposed to deliver and kept them for himself.

Wellington said he took the post because he felt ‘panicked’ about delivering his workload and felt he could not talk to his managers about being stressed out.

He was sentenced to an 18 month community order today including 180 hours of unpaid work after admitting two counts of theft and a count of delaying and opening post.

Before sentencing him at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court district judge Barbara Barnes said: “There were two or three thousand people expecting mail that never arrived and no-one knows what was in those packages.

“People like you that commit offences like this cause serious harm to the Royal Mail and the British postal system because members of the public rely on the Royal Mail to deliver and they trust the postal system.

“These are very serious offences indeed and what you need to remember is that you are at risk of being sent to prison because in my view only custody could be justified.”

But instead of jailing him the judge said she took into account his guilty pleas, his age and the fact it will be difficult for him to get work because of his dishonesty in the workplace.

He must also pay costs of £2,752, £152.96 compensation to Royal Mail and a £60 victim surcharge.

District judge Barnes added: “You’re going to have to try and get a job of some sort.

“These are the consequences of your criminal action and you’re the one that has to pay for it.”

He told the court: “I’m very regretful because I have delayed mail and mistreated other people’s private property.

“It will never happen again.

“I have never done anything wrong before and I just panicked.”