updated 4/10/2006 2:24:56 AM ET 2006-04-10T06:24:56

A mailman who hoarded thousands of letters and parcels at his home was jailed for four months on Friday. Christopher Meek, 19, admitted hoarding 13,819 postal items, saying he had taken them home because his mailbag was too heavy for him to carry.

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He was arrested in December after the Royal Mail received complaints from people who had not received Christmas gifts sent through the mail, prosecutors told Sunderland Magistrates' Court in northern England.

Meek opened more than 1,400 of the items and stole the contents, including compact disks and DVDs, jewelry and gift vouchers, prosecutors said.

"When he was interviewed he denied any wrongdoing, saying the work was too heavy and he had always intended returning the mail," said prosecutor Paul Herron. "He admitted spending the money he had stolen and giving other items away."

Meek's lawyer, Peter Thubron, said his client — who is short and slight — had struggled to carry his mailbag and had taken the mail items home to deliver later but then let the situation get out of control.

Magistrate Alex Hendry told Meek he had "brought unhappiness to a lot of people."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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