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Man jailed for ambushing postal workers

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Paul Walker was jailed by a judge at Canterbury Crown Court
Paul Walker was jailed by a judge at Canterbury Crown Court

A 28-year-old man has been jailed for five years for robbing two postal workers as they made their deliveries.

One postal employee, Sharon Parry, was grabbed round the neck, pushed, sworn at then thrown to the floor as she tried to stop two men taking her van in May last year in Whitstable.

Then in December Graham Tuffey, a post office employee for almost 48 years, was grabbed from behind and wrestled to the ground where he was repeatedly punched before two men made off with his van.

Fingerprints and DNA on a delivery slip and a baseball cap led police to Paul Walker, 28, of Cornmill Lane, Lewisham, who at Canterbury Crown Court was jailed for five years, having admitted the two robberies.

Donna East, prosecuting, said Ms Parry had been a Royal Mail delivery driver for five years and was standing in for a sick colleague on May 12 last year doing a special delivery round.

She had delivered one parcel in Whitstable's Vulcan Close and was checking on the next delivery when she saw two men coming towards her, one white and one black with a big build and wearing a black tracksuit.

Both were looking at her and she felt uneasy then the white man came behind her, put his right hand round her neck and his left on her shoulder, catching her lip with his watch.

She was pushed towards the van and Walker tried to grab her van keys. Eventually the right key was pulled from the key ring, they backed off and the white man got into the driver’s seat.

Ms Parry tried to get the key but he looked at her and she backed away. "He shut the door and she tried opening it to grab him but he started to shut it. She opened it again and he got out, approached her and showed her his fist then walked back.

"She went for him again and this time he grabbed her and threw her quite aggressively to the ground and shouted abuse.

"When she got to her feet he was reversing away. She made another valiant attempt to stop him but the door was locked and the van drove off. She heard the black man say ‘I am going to hit you.," said Ms East.

The incident was witnessed by others and the van was later recovered not far away.

Its parcels were missing but in the road was a slip for the delivery she had made with Walker’s prints on it.

Ms Parry was distressed and in a later victim impact statement said the incident had left her shaken and she felt she didn’t want to work alone again doing the special delivery run.

"The whole incident took about two minutes but at the time felt it went on for quite a while," the statement said.

On Friday December 12, Graham Tuffey had just made a delivery in Canterbury Road, Herne Bay, and was returning to his van in Cavendish Road when he was grabbed from behind and attacked.

While one man repeatedly punched him, another demanded his van keys calling Mr Tuffey an ‘effing bastard’.

Mr Tuffey had already thrown down the keys which were used to start the van. A witness tried to block its path but it mounted the pavement and drove off.

A description of one of the robbers matched Walker and his DNA was found on a baseball cap. The van was later recovered minus its contents.

Mr Tuffey suffered two black eyes, a cut and a grazed elbow.

Sheilagh Davies, for Walker, said he surrendered voluntarily after police left a message for him at a known address.

"He has taken full responsiblity for his part, even though others were involved and perhaps they were less niave because it was his fingerprints and DNA left behind," she said.

At the time Walker was using drugs because of personal difficulties but he had since pulled himself together and was getting off drugs.

Walker had spent four months in custody and although a custodial sentence was inevitable Miss Davies submitted the court could sufficiently discount it because of his early plea, contrition and willingness to make amends.

Letters from Walker to the victims had been handed into court.

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