Llandough man jailed after stealing five miles of live high-voltage cable

A LLANDOUGH man that was part of a gang that stole five miles of live high-voltage cable from pylons in Gloucestershire has been jailed for 21 months.

Liam Murphy, of Penlan Road, was also jailed for three months, to run concurrently, for possessing a taser gun.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that Murphy, 24, was part of a gang of seven men, all from south Wales, who risked their lives in the “audacious” theft.

The court heard that members of the gang who isolated the circuits of five pylons to steal the 45 tonnes of cable could have “become charcoal” if things had gone wrong.

They also caused £150,000 worth of damage and loss in the process of the theft.

Judge William Hart jailed the men for between 21 months and two and a half years each.

He said he was sentencing them only for the specific theft at Netherhills Farm, Frampton on Severn, Glos - although there had been a spate of 12 such attacks on pylons in the area between August 2010 and January 2011.

"This was undoubtedly a very well planned and professionally executed offence,” said the judge.

"It required very considerable specialist knowledge and considerable audacity bordering on foolhardiness.

"It may be more by luck than skill or intention that this offence did not affect consumer electricity supplies on the night in question.

"It is well known that metal and cable theft is a very prevalent problem in this country. The victims in this case, Western Power Distribution, alone lose something like £15million a year as a result of such offending and the estimated total UK loss is in the order of £800million.

"That gives some idea of the scale of the problem faced by power distributors in this country."

The court heard that the gang were caught as a result of two of them being stopped by police in routine checks while driving in the area of Frampton on Severn on the night of September 16/17, 2010.

Their names were taken and when the theft was discovered on September 17 by a local farmer police were quick to arrest the men - which led in turn to the other five culprits also being identified.

They were each jailed for two years.

Umar ran a scrap metal business, ABM Salvage, in Argyll Way, Cardiff and he and his brother, although not directly involved in the theft, were found to have made calls to the others involved at the time of the raid.

The five other men, all from Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Liam Murphy, 24, of Penlan Road, Llandough, Penarth, was jailed for 21 months with a concurrent three months sentence for possessing a taser gun.

Stephen Phillips, 52, of Addicott Close, Cardiff, received 30 months, as did Martyn Richards, 27, of Heol Poyston, Ely, Cardiff.

Sentences of 21 months each were passed on Paul Condick, 30, of Llandow rd, Cardiff, and Nathan James, 35, of Heol Trelai, Ely.

After the hearing Detective Constable Jon Williams said the men could have become ‘charcoal’ if anything went wrong.

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