A postwoman pocketed an expensive engagement ring she found on the floor outside a house in Hatton Park she had just delivered to, and then tried to sell it.
Despite being confronted with CCTV footage of her picking it up, postie Dawn Wright still denied stealing the ring.
But she was found guilty by magistrates who committed her to Warwick Crown Court where she was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.
Wright (45) of Beake Avenue, Coventry, was also ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity, to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £340 costs.
Prosecutor Graham Russell said that in January last year a Warwick woman took off her wedding and engagement rings and put them down on a table which had a tablecloth on it.
Later that morning she took the cloth outside the front door of her home in Tredington Park, Hatton Park to shake some dust off it.
It was only at around 11pm that night that she realised what she had done and that the two rings had still been on the cloth when she had shaken it outside.
She and her son spent a long time outside searching for them in the dark, and found her wedding ring but were unable to find the engagement ring, which had cost around £9,000 in 2006.
When she then checked the recording from her CCTV camera she saw that at just after 1pm a postal worker had delivered a letter and had bent down and picked something up from outside the house before walking away.
“The postal worker was the defendant, and the something she picked up was the ring,” said Mr Russell.
The next day Wright went into a jewellers in Coventry for a valuation on the ring.
She claimed to have found it some weeks earlier and to have advertised it as ‘missing and found’ on posters she had put around on lampposts, but that no-one had claimed it.
The jeweller, who told her he thought he ring would sell for about £8,000, suspected it might have been stolen from another jeweller’s in Warwick.
So he told Wright he would hold on to it to make a proper valuation - and then contacted a police officer who got in touch with Wright and asked her to attend for a voluntary interview.
She claimed she had found the ring on the pavement, and stuck to that story even when confronted with the CCTV evidence showing her picking it up outside the house.
And she asserted that, although she had not yet done so, she had intended to put up posters, but had wanted to make sure it was genuine before making a fool of herself if it was not.
Alexander Barber, defending, said Wright accepted her conviction by the magistrates and has not appealed it, to which Judge Anthony Potter responded: “Yes, but she’s clearly not expressing any remorse.”
Mr Barber said Wright did regret the effect it had had on her victim, and ‘appreciates now she should have picked it up, turned round and knocked on the door.’
“She accepts it will be a custodial sentence, but I would invite Your Honour to consider an alternative to immediate custody" said Mr Barber.
He said Wright, who had no previous convictions, had been suspended from work and does not know what will happen about her employment, but was ‘more likely than not to lose her job if she’s sent to immediate custody.’
Sentencing Wright, Judge Potter told her: “Whatever you may have said to the author of the pre-sentence report, you should be under no illusion I am quite satisfied you knew exactly what you were doing when you picked up someone else’s engagement ring.
“I am quite satisfied you knew it was valuable and would have been of sentimental value, and I’m satisfied you knew it belonged to the householder of the house to which you had been making deliveries.
“You took it for your own gain, believing you would be able to sell it for several thousand pounds. You had a responsible job. I am quite satisfied there was an abuse of trust here.
“There was not a guilty plea or any meaningful remorse, but there is your previous good character.”