A postman guilty of a major breach of trust when he stole parcels destined for members of the public has been sent to crown court for sentencing.

Stephen Tempest, 30, ripped open packages while working at the Skipton Delivery Office looking for items of clothing in his size, Skipton magistrates heard.

He was finally stopped when he tried to exchange a pair of £40 jogging trousers at Just Jeans in Skipton.

The owner recognised the trousers as he had sold them on the internet and alerted the Royal Mail.

Michael O’Garra, prosecuting for the Royal Mail, said a search of Tempest’s home uncovered 22 items of clothing and computer games, including the popular Call of Duty.

The investigators also found ten clothing tags in his waste bin.

Mr O’Garra said the total value of items recovered was around £700, but it was difficult to ascertain the full amount.

“This was a breach of trust over a substantial period. There is evidence that it was going on for some time and regularly and for a relatively large value,” he said.

Tempest, who the court heard had no previous convictions, had been a postman for more than 11 years since leaving school.

He admitted the theft of 21 packets belonging to Royal Mail between November 20, 2012, and November 22, 2012, and also to the theft of a pair of £40 jogging trousers between November 10, 2013, and November 21, 2013.

He was a single man, with no dependents or debts, and could not explain why he had taken to stealing, the court was told.

Paul Fitzpatrick, in mitigation, said all the clothing had been in his size and were for his own use.

“He would break open packets at the sorting office and if the clothing was in his size, he would consider taking it,” he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick said Tempest fully appreciated he had broken a special trust expected of Royal Mail employees and the level of seriousness.

Magistrates told Tempest, of Cleveland Street, Colne, that he had breached a trust that the public had come to rely on.

He was sent to Bradford Crown Court for sentencing on May 9.