Two metal thieves who caused more than half-a-million pounds worth of delay and disruption to the rail network but received just £43 in scrap for the stolen cable, have been jailed for more than 5 years.
Richard Alan Yates, 26, and Dean March, 42, both of Turner Lane Boughton, were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court, yesterday, Tuesday, 22 September, after pleading guilty to the theft of cable at an earlier hearing.
Yates was sentenced to 26 months behind bars and March 36 months.
Doncaster commuters were amongst those caught up in the chaos after both men stole 80 metres of signalling cable from the East Coast Mainline railway line 300 metres north of Retford Railway station April 12.
The theft sparked huge disruption to mainline service and affected approximately 129 trains, which amounted more than 2,900 minutes of delays to the rail industry at the cost of over £581,000.
When officers from British Transport Police’s dedicated cable team, Operation Leopard, were alerted of the theft, they attended the location and discovered burnt cable and a number of knives and tools at the scene.
They also discovered that the men had removed bricks from a wall close to the track to access the railway lines.
An investigation was launched and DNA evidence following forensic analysis of the tools led them to March.
The following day Yates was arrested after weighing in stolen cable at a local metal dealer, for which he received just £43.45.
Detective Inspector Mick Dawes, of British Transport Police, said: “Both March and Yates targeted one of the busiest railway lines in the country, the East Coast Mainline, which resulted in travel disruption and misery for thousands of passengers that day.
“Their actions not only inconvenienced passengers but also cost the rail industry more than £581.000 in costs and repairs, which ultimately can be passed on to the fare paying passenger.”
“Strong forensic analysis, including DNA from the tools and evidence from the metal dealers, tied both men to the offence which left them with no option but to plead guilty.
“The irony is that despite risking their lives and their liberty, they only received £43 and now are facing a number of years behind bars.
“Cable doesn’t really have any real value to thieves or anyone outside the railway industry, as scrap metal dealers are highly unlikely to accept any cable or pay minimal costs in return. Yet the cost to the industry to replace the stolen and damaged cable is extremely high.
“Stealing railway cable is also incredibly dangerous and anyone seeking to do so risks serious injury – or even death – through electrocution.
“BTP, Network Rail and the criminal justice system take a dim view of this type of activity and simply will not tolerate any behaviour which threatens the infrastructure of the country.
“Technological and forensic advances are making life more and more difficult for thieves and are increasing the opportunities for BTP to detect criminals.
“Today’s sentences should serve as a stark warning to others seeking to profit from stealing from the railway.”
Mark Tarry, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “This case demonstrates just how costly cable theft from the railway can be. Trespassing onto the network for any reason is extremely dangerous and as this case shows, it can end up costing the taxpayer huge sums of money to put right, as well as causing immense disruption and frustration for passengers trying to go about their daily lives. We are continually developing better ways to protect the network from cable thieves and will continue to work with the British Transport Police to prosecute anyone caught carrying out such a mindless act of vandalism.”