Three Doncaster men from the same family have now been jailed for a total of three and a half years for their part in a gang responsible for over 35 railway cable thefts worth more than £1million.
Brian Derrick Smith, aged 36, of Millfield Lane, Stainforth, Philip Smith, 25, of New Park Estate, Stainforth and 46-year-old Gordon Geoffrey Smith of Ramskir View, Stainforth all admitted plotting to steal cable from the railway line across Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Yorkshire on some 37 occasions between 1 February 2013 to 31 December 2013 at a hearing in Lincolnshire Crown Court.
Their partners in crime, in the form of family members Charles Aaron Smith, 31, and Craig Paul Smith, 27 from the Lincolnshire area as well as Grantham man Malcolm Isaac, 42, also pleaded guilty to the offences.
The men were caught following a two year investigation by British Transport Police.
The court heard how they had targeted three major rail improvement projects being delivered by Network Rail, and stole signalling cable, which had been installed but not yet commissioned as part of the projects. They then stripped the cabling and sold the copper inside.
The locations they targeted included Oakham, Boston, Ancaster, Sleaford, Digby, Saxondale, Grantham, Spalding, Reepham, Fiskerton, Beckingham, Market Rasen, Gainsborough, Lowdham, Burton Joyce and Nottingham, and Haxey in South Yorkshire and Whitby in North Yorkshire.
The total cost to Network Rail to replace the cabling stolen at each location was valued at £1,054,099.
The men were arrested as part of Operation Motion in dawn raids at the home addresses on March 19, 2014 following a covert operation.
The investigation into the gang’s activities secured evidence from various sources, linking all seven to each other and to the crimes and led to the seizure of two of their vans, a quad bike, as well as hydraulic cutting equipment.
Property seized at their homes, including bolt coppers, disk cutters, grinders, hacksaws, cable sheathing and a off road bike also provided invaluable evidence which when shown to the group, gave them no option but to plead guilty.
“The gang targeted areas of the rail network which were remote and difficult to access without knowledge.” said Detective Inspector Mick Dawes who headed up the Operation Motion.
“They travelled the country in what was a well-planned and organised operation.
"Through working closely with industry colleagues, we tracked them down and brought them before the courts today.
“Cable theft costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year, causing delays and increases in costs to projects which have a knock-on effect on passengers.
“We take this type of crime extremely seriously and we will do all we can to bring offenders to justice.
“The gang will now spend a considerable amount of time in prison and these sentences should act as a deterrent to others who seek to profit from cable theft.”
"I would like to take his opportunity to thank our partners within the railway industry for their support and co-operation with this investigation."
Hayley Bull, community safety manager 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 for passengers trying to go about their daily lives and delays to improvement work intended to create a more reliable railway. 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.”
Brian Smith was sentenced to three years and four months; Malcolm Isaac to two years and eight months; Philip Smith to 12 months; Gordon Smith to one year and two months; Charles Smith to one year and two months and Craig Smith to two years and eight months.
Beardmore had conspiracy charges dropped to just one count of theft for which he was sentenced to a 12 month suspended sentence for two years. He must also serve 100 hours community service, and is subject to a 12 month supervision order.
A seventh man, Jaime Beardmore, 23, of Brunswick Street, Thurnscoe, received a 12 month suspended sentence for two years.
The gang were sentenced at Lincolnshire Crown Court on Monday, 11 January.