A group of seven thieves from Cardiff who risked their lives to steal live cable worth more than £150,000 have been jailed. The cables had been taken from 33,000-volt electricity pylons in a field in Gloucestershire and then taken to the Welsh capital.
Two were convicted of conspiring to steal the cable in last month’s a hearing at Gloucester Crown Court and 5 other men had pleaded guilty to the same charge at an earlier hearing.
Judge William Hart told them: “It was well planned and needed considerable audacity bordering on foolhardiness.
“It did not affect local power supplies, but that was more luck than judgement.”
The theft of Western Power Distribution’s cables occured at Netherhills farm in Frampton-on-Severn, Gloucestershire. The gang scaled high voltage pylons and cut through live copper conductors at both ends. The copper cable the thieves rolled up to be sold on measured over 7,000 metres and was disposed of in the Cardiff area.
Brothers Vijay and Umar Chohan, from Ely in Cardiff, had previously denied their involvement, but were convicted by a jury last month – both were sentenced to two years in prison.
Their trial heard the men were caught after a policeman on patrol in the area became suspicious after speaking to the occupants of a Ford Transit van and a Ford Fiesta car who told him they had been rabbiting.
Telephone numbers relating to ABM Salvage in Argyll Way, Cardiff – a business run by Umar Chohan – were found on the defendants’ mobile phones. When police visited the premises Umar Chohan told them that he had stopped dealing in scrap metal and was now a vehicle repair shop. But while officers were still there a man called and delivered scrap metal, “so suspicions were further aroused,” said prosecutor Mark Worsley.
Subsequent analysis of the two defendants’ mobile phones revealed several calls on the night of the crime to other defendants who had already admitted their involvement in conspiring to steal the cable.
Paul Condick and Nathan James from Cardiff and Liam Murphy from Llandough were given 21 months.
Martin Richards and Stephen Phillips, also from Cardiff, each received two-and-a-half year sentences.