close up of cheque book  focus...Shutterstock / abimages

A postal worker who facilitated frauds costing banks more than £1 million by stealing cheque books from a sorting office has been jailed for seven years.

Paul Akuda, 64, was arrested after Royal Mail launched an inquiry in November 2010 into thefts from its depot in St Stephens Street, Birmingham.

Akuda, who was suspended from his job in May 2011, was found guilty last month of conspiracy to commit fraud following a trial.

Jurors heard police recovered a total of 44 stolen cheque books from Akuda's bag, his locker at work, and his home in the Handsworth area.

After Akuda was jailed by Judge Peter Carr at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutors confirmed that around 500 cheque books were believed to have been stolen between October 2010 and May 2011.

It is believed Akuda was responsible for at least a proportion of the thefts, and those cheque books that were stolen by the defendant were then used in frauds causing losses of around £1.2 million.

Commenting on the offences after Akuda was jailed, Kerry Moreton, senior Crown prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Paul Akuda abused his position of trust with the Royal Mail and began a campaign of dishonesty against his employers which resulted in innocent members of the public having their cheque books stolen.

"Over a seven-month period, Akuda stole cheque books from the sorting depot where he worked and then sold these books onto third parties who would then use them in fraudulent transactions.

"Although his illegal activities resulted in losses of over a £1 million to a number banks, there was no evidence to suggest that Akuda was more deeply involved in the frauds than acting as the original thief and supplier of the cheque books, but his actions were key to the whole enterprise and without which the rest of the fraud could not have taken place.

"It does appear, however, that he received minimal financial benefit for his role in the enterprise."
Akuda, who had worked for Royal Mail since 2003, also pleaded guilty to theft.