Two Buxton men who caused more than £30,000 worth of damage to the railway after stealing cable have been jailed.
Stephen John O’Brien, 35, of Fairfield Road, and Ronnie Turner, 45, of London Road, were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Court on Tuesday, 12 December when they were each jailed for 30 weeks.
A third man, James William Harding, aged 42, formerly of Leygate View, New Mills, was given a 12 month conditional discharge.
The thefts took place over a period of three months from January to March last year on the Hindlow good lines in Buxton.
In January, following reports of stolen cable, BTP officers attended and found cut and burnt cable along with a bag containing cable ready for removal.
The following day Turner and Harding were spotted in the area – an inspection of their vehicle by Derbyshire Police revealed burnt copper cable in the boot of the car.
Harding and Turner were later arrested at Turner’s home address – with both ‘looking like miners’ and smelling of smoke.
The cable found in the boot was later identified as the same cable stolen from the location.
The series of incidents culminated on March 3 when live cable was stolen from Hindlow Tunnel in Buxton. While previous cable stolen had been redundant – this live cable haul caused a 666 minute delay to services as a direct result of the damage which cost Network Rail £13,404. Repair costs came to £18,368 resulting in a total cost of £31,772.
During the execution of a warrant at Turner’s home, on 7 March, a CCTV unit was recovered.
Incriminating images recorded on the unit captured the three men wearing head torches and carrying hacksaws and cable, bolt croppers and leaving and arriving on dates corresponding with the offences.
A large amount of cable was also found in the cellar of Turner’s home.
Intelligence linked O’Brien and Turner to a substantial haul of cable stolen from the location over three separate dates on February 27 and March 1 and 3.
Investigating officer PC Matt Morrison said: “Over a period of three months, Turner and O’Brien and on one occasion, Harding, pillaged cable from the railway. The effects of this on the rail network were massive resulting in a total cost of more than £30,000 to Network Rail.
"Cable theft is not a victimless crime – the resulting disruption brings delays and chaos to the network, and to the lives of those who rely on the railway to travel.
“Cable thieves risk not only a prison sentence, but also their lives attempting to steal cable and precious metals from the railway.
“Thanks to some good work by the officers involved O'Brien and Turner are now behind bars. The message here is clear – anyone who decides to engage in criminal activity of this sort should be mindful that we will do everything in our power to bring them to justice.”