A BUSINESSMAN falsified accounts at his village post office because he was inept rather than a criminal looking to fleece his bosses, a court heard yesterday.

Timothy Burgess was said to have been unable to cope with the demands of the job while he also ran a cafe and a pub in Catterick Village, North Yorkshire.

Burgess took over the subpost office in July 2006. An audit carried out a year ago showed financial irregularities.

The checks revealed a deficit of cash and items such as postal orders and stamps totalling more than £7,500.

The court heard that the finances were so bad that Burgess, 42, spent £2,500 of his own money in an attempt to resolve the matter.

Burgess was arrested and told investigators that running the three businesses had got on top of him and caused him to enter wrong figures in the accounts.

Ron Mitchell, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court he attributed the discrepancies to mismanagement and errors, and that Burgess has since repaid all but £1,000.

Carl Swift, in mitigation, said: “The false accounting was based on his desperate attempts to mask his incompetence rather than make a financial gain.

“He was actually making good the difference through his own savings and wages.”

Burgess, of High Street, Catterick Village, admitted false accounting and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 court costs.

Judge Peter Bowers told him: “Your dishonesty was not taking money, but covering up your incompetence to the Post Office.

“You were obviously doing too much by way of business, and took the easy way out by trying to cover it up.”