Seven jailed after 45 tonnes of cable stolen in Frampton-on-Severn
5:01pm Tuesday 17th December 2013 in News
SEVEN men involved in the “audacious” theft of more than five miles of high-voltage cable from pylons in Gloucestershire have been jailed.
The gang isolated the circuits of five pylons to steal 45 tonnes of cable which caused £150,000 worth of damage and loss, Gloucester crown court heard on Tuesday, December 17.
Judge William Hart jailed the men, all from south Wales, for between 21 months and two and a half years each.
He said he was sentencing them only for the specific theft at Netherhills Farm in Frampton-on-Severn - although there had been a spate of 12 such attacks on pylons in the area between August 2010 and January 2011.
"This was undoubtedly a very well-planned and professionally-executed offence." said the judge.
"It required very considerable specialist knowledge and considerable audacity bordering on foolhardiness.
"It may be more by luck than skill or intention that this offence did not affect consumer electricity supplies on the night in question.
"It is well known that metal and cable theft is a very prevalent problem in this country. The victims in this case, Western Power Distribution, alone lose something like £15million a year as a result of such offending and the estimated total UK loss is in the order of £800million."
The court heard that the gang were caught as a result of two of them being stopped by police in routine checks while driving in the area of Frampton-on-Severn on the night of September 16, 2010.
Their names were taken and when the theft was discovered the next day by a local farmer.
Brothers Vijay, 24, and Umar Chohan, 26, from Grand Avenue, Cardiff, denied conspiring to steal the cable but were found guilty and each jailed for two years.
Umar ran a scrap metal business, ABM Salvage, in Argyll Way, Cardiff and he and his brother, although not directly involved in the theft, were found to have made calls to the others involved at the time of the raid.
The five other men, all from Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.
Liam Murphy, 24, of Penlan Road, Llandough, Penarth, was jailed for 21 months with a concurrent 3 months sentence for possessing a taser gun.
Stephen Phillips, 52, of Addicott Close, Cardiff, received 30 months, as did Martyn Richards, 27, of Heol Poyston, Ely, Cardiff.
Sentences of 21 months each were passed on Paul Condick, 30, of Llandow Road, Cardiff, and Nathan James, 35, of Heol Trelai, Ely.
Prosecutor Susan Cavender said there was no loss of power but if there had been a crisis 10,000 homes and businesses would have been cut off.