A CRIMINAL gang whose spree of railway cable thefts cost the taxpayer £1m have been jailed for a total of 16 years.
The five thieves, all from Heanor and Langley Mill, were sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday, March 24, having already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Thomas Ingram, Scott Clark, Ian Radford and David Gatfield were convicted of 67 separate offences, which were carried out over an 18-month period, each receiving a four-year prison sentence. Fifth gang member Martin Harriman, was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
The numerous thefts resulted in trains being delayed and at times even cancelled. Police said trains suffered a total of 322 hours’ delays due to the gang’s activities.
Chief superintendent Mark Smith of British Transport Police (BTP) said: “The criminal behaviour of this gang resulted in countless problems for commuters.
“Cable theft hits hardest those who make use of the railway to get to and from work, to see loved ones and to ferry goods up and down the country.”
The five men, aged between 23 and 43, were first arrested in August, 2009, after they were found to have stolen cable at Bletchly station, in Northamptonshire. They were charged in September, 2010, after a year-long investigation.
A team of officers from the BTP’s London North area said the gang visited four metal recyclers to sell on the stolen cable in Alfreton, Langley Mill and Ilkeston. Working together the gang used false names when dealing with their buyers.
Records and footage obtained from the metal recyclers helped officers track the criminals’ movements. The gang’s country-wide campaign of theft spread as far north as Leeds, but also targeted local stations at Alfreton and Langley Mill.
In total they stole 27 tonnes of cabling, vital for power and communications on the rail network.
Dyan Crowther, director of operational service at Network Rail said: “Today’s sentence reflects how serious these crimes are as an attack on the community and the economy. These thieves have caused misery to thousands of passengers.”