Mail thief claims guilty verdict unreasonable

A FORMER Toowoomba post employee who was convicted of stealing mail and opening Christmas parcels is fighting in Queensland's highest court to try to overturn his conviction.

Earlier this year Jonathan Charles Byers was sentenced to three years in jail for stealing mail between October 2011 and June 2013. He had been found guilty after a trial.

At the Queensland Court of Appeal on Monday, Byers's barrister Simon Hamlyn-Harris said the jury's guilty verdict was unreasonable.

He said the jury should not have excluded a "reasonable hypothesis" that his employee had stolen and placed the mail in Byers's shed.

When police searched Byers's house and shed they found more than 9000 pieces of unopened mail and 1600 items that had been opened.

He claimed he did not know the mail items were in his shed and that they had been placed there by an employee, who has also been sentenced for stealing mail.

Mr Hamlyn-Harris said the case against his client was circumstantial and that the jury could not have reasonably dismissed the possibility that Byers did not know the mail was in his shed.

Mr Hamlyn-Harris also said there was evidence that mail had been found in the co-accused's car.

But a solicitor acting for the Crown said it was open to the jury to find Byers guilty because the mail was found in his shed, the shed was close to his house and mail from three post runs Byers was responsible for was found.

Mr Hamlyn-Harris also argued that the prosecutor unfairly cross-examined Byers during the trial and that this caused a miscarriage of justice.

"My submission is that it appeared to be calculated to ridicule (Byers) ... it effectively made fun of (Byers) and it was likely in the eyes of the jury to deflect them from proper and dispassionate consideration," he said.

But the Crown's solicitor said there was no objection to the prosecution's cross examination during the trial and that Byers was not bullied on the stand.

The court will consider the matter and hand down its decision at a future date.

- ARM NEWSDESK


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