A SHEFFIELD post office boss who stole over £400,000 from work pretended he couldn’t speak for more than a year - in a desperate bid to avoid jail.
Religious Amritpal Mehat, aged 26, of Totley Hall Croft, Totley, claimed God had struck him dumb because of his shame at being caught stealing.
He kept up the con for more than a year and was even sent to a psychiatric hospital by a crown court judge.
He was rumbled when a doctor wished him ‘good luck’ in Punjabi - and he answered ‘thank you’.
The conversation was revealed during a trial of issue at Manchester’s Minshull Steret Crown Court, when a jury unanimously found he was ‘mute by malice’ rather than by ‘visitation of God’.
Mehat spoke publicly for the first time when he appeared at the court, confirming his name and guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to steal from the Post Office and theft.
Sentencing him to four years imprisonment, Judge Bernard Lever said: “This was a wicked deception.
“You have had the crown jumping through forensic hoops for two years.
“A large number of experts were called to examine you at vast public expense.
“I ordered you to hospital for a month where you were unable to maintain your silence, though you had a good go.”
Mehat stole the cash from Droylsden Post Office, Tameside, near Manchester, between November 2008 and January 2009.
The court heard he did it to save his family business, which included other Post Office franchises.
Mehat, the company secretary, stole £408,000 by falsifying accounts using the log in of another employee to deflect blame.
Michael Rawlinson, defending, said “He has been searching for a way to come to terms with what he has done.
“He has brought great shame on his family.”