Leigh Michael Ebdell's off' />

A Christchurch postie who stole 1500 items of customers' mail has failed in his appeal against a nine-month jail term.

Leigh Michael Ebdell's offending was described by a security advisor as the "largest theft of mail" she had to deal with in her 12 years with New Zealand Post.

And the sentencing district court judge said no other errant postal worker's behaviour came "within cooee" of Ebdell's.

Ebdell had admitted one representative charge of theft in a special position and one of using a document, in relation to the use of gift vouchers he stole from the mail.

He was also ordered to pay reparation of $4000 to NZ Post and a further $1065 to individuals who lost property.

Justice Christine French upheld the sentence in the High Court at Christchurch but ordered that the reparation be paid at $10 a week on Ebdell's release from jail.

His lawyer had sought home detention.

The courts heard that Ebdell started stealing the contents of mail and hoarding undelivered mail last December.

When his activities were discovered in March, he had taken around 1500 items of mail.

An investigation found that he had opened more than 179 greetings cards, keeping any cash, gift cards or vouchers he found, as well as 32 packages containing clothes, jewellery and other items.

Ebdell failed to deliver a further 1104 items of a business nature addressed to householders, ripped up another 225 items of mail and failed to deliver 175 magazines and large document packages

Justice French said that the undelivered items included bills, rates notices, tax demands, charity appeal envelopes, medical appointments, wedding invitations and bereavement cards.

A large number of items, including stamps, DVDs, books, clothing and jewellery were still outstanding. He also failed to deliver thousands of advertising pamphlets.

More than 80 householders were affected, the judge said, and other posties fell under suspicion and were abused by members of the public.

The judge said NZ Post incurred $13,450 costs in its investigation and suffered damage to its commercial reputation, as well as loss of people's faith in the integrity of the mail system.

After his arrest, Ebdell was hospitalised after suffering a major depression with suicidal thoughts.

His pre-sentence report said his offending started when he found he could not finish the work he was required to do, so started hoarding the mail and was then tempted when he saw some cash in one of the cards.

He said it was "like a rollercoaster and he was unable to escape".

Home detention was not recommended in the pre-sentence report because the isolation would only exacerbate his depression.

The district court judge said home detention would not serve the main purpose of denunciation and deterrence.

Confirming the sentence, Justice French said it was artificial to draw comparisons with other cases on the basis of a dollar value given the nature of the offending in this case.

People were affected in many different and sometimes intangible ways, such as lost opportunities for the charities, missed medical appointments and late payment of bills with possible penalty payments.

"The effects, while not necessarily significant in money terms, were nevertheless widespread and far-reaching and must have caused emotional harm," she said.

- NZPA