A POSTMAN admitted failing to deliver almost 1,900 items of mail during a three-week "lapse".

Andrew Robert McCardle, 21, was said to be out of his depth and suffering a depressive illness at the time.

He appeared at Durham Crown Court yesterday, when he admitted intentionally delaying, without reasonable excuse, 1,721 postal packets between May 21 and June 12 last year.

McCardle also admitted intentionally delaying a further 170 postal packets on June 11.

Michael Graham, prosecuting, said that given the pleas, the Crown would not proceed with two further charges that McCardle had denied.

These were of false accounting, relating to a dishonest claim for door-to-door delivery of 704 UK Independence Party leaflets in May and the theft of 170 postal packets on June 11.

Mr Graham said the second charge he pleaded to yesterday should adequately cover the June 11 offence, while McCardle has offered to repay £98.38, which he falsely claimed for delivering the leaflets, as well as the £40 cost for having them delivered.

Stephen Rich, in mitigation, said: "It is an unfortunate lapse in the performance of his duties as a postman.

"At no point was he trying to benefit, he was simply out of his depth, a combination of incompetence and ill-health, which gradually built up in the months beforehand.

"I would hope that it would not be seen as someone being dishonest, but as someone who could not cope."

Sentencing was adjourned for probation service reports.

McCardle, of Derwent Crescent, Hamsterley, near Consett, County Durham, was bailed to return for sentencing on April 22.