DISGRACED postmistress Karen Judd collapsed and fell down the stairs from the dock to the cells when she was jailed for a year today for stealing parcels from the post.

Judd, 43, sobbed and screamed when Judge William Hart sentenced her to 12 months imprisonment at Gloucester crown court.

She fell backwards down the steep steps which lead from the dock in court number two to the holding cells below. It was understood she suffered an ankle injury in the fall.

Judd, a mum of one and a former Financial Times manager of New Streert, Painswick, had pilfered six postal packets when she was running Painswick post office.

At her trial last month she denied a total of eight charges of stealing parcels during a six months period in late 2012 and early 2013 and was found not guilty of two of the them.

Today Judge Hart told her that despite her previous good record she had to go to prison for the breach of public trust she had committed.

"You were a well thought of mother and employee but the seriousness of an abuse of trust by a postmistress is hard to overstate," the judge told her.

"What is bewildering is your absurd denials of the offences. Your actions caused alarm, disappointment and distress to the public who were expecting to receive their items in the post.

"Custody is inevitable."

Roger Carne, for Judd, had told the court "She is of previous good character and these offences are clearly out of that character."

She had been a respected and much appreciated member of the community, delivering parcels personally to the elderly as well as their prescriptions, he continued.

"She also worked in a charity shop and there have been numerous letters of support for her."

The offences of which Judd was convicted were theft of a Boden jacket in one parcel, a skirt in another, a Samsung phone in a third, a carriage clock in another, a Blackberry phone and 65 Canadian dollars in a fifth - and an iPod Nano and 25 Euros which were in a test parcel posted by Royal Mail investigators.

The jury heard that an investigation was launched when a local jeweller in Painswick posted two parcels five days apart in December 2012 and neither arrived. Both contained treasured jewellery including wedding rings which were being sent back to the owners after repair but they never arrived.

During the investgation the Royal Mail sent in two members of staff working under cover to post test parcels. One arrived but the other did not and the investigators and police raided the shop.

They found the iPod Nano and cash from the test parcel - and also other stolen goods including the carriage clock, still with some bubble wrap stuck in its door.