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Power failure trail led to cable thieves
8:40pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in News
SECURITY staff were alerted to a cable theft after a power failure triggered an alarm at Hartlebury railway station near Worcester.
Thieves James Lavelle and Michael Lewis were hiding next to outbuildings near the line, Worcester Crown Court was told.
Lavelle, who had gloves and a screwdriver, was detained by staff and Lewis was discovered on waste ground nearby.
The copper cable, which had been stripped down, cost Network Rail £15,000 to repair and replace, said Alex Warren, prosecuting.
A fortnight earlier, Lavelle was caught by police near Kidderminster railway station where five bundles of copper cable had been concealed in vegetation.
Lavelle, aged 39, of Broad Street, Kidderminster, and 48-year-old Lewis, of Teme Avenue, Kidderminster, pleaded guilty to theft and were each given eight- month jail sentences.
Lavelle, who also found guilty by a jury of possession of heroin with intent to supply and admitted a further offence of possession of crack cocaine, was given a four-year prison term for the drug crimes to run concurrently.
At Hartlebury, 30 metres of power cable – to be used in a renovation project – were stolen from the railway on May 31 this year, said Mr Warren. Both defendants claimed that they were not responsible for its removal from the railway but were in the process of taking it from the site.
On May 17 security patrols on Homebase’s car park near Kidderminster station alerted police. Lavelle, found hiding in a front garden of a house, insisted he found the stolen cable in an alley.
He was already on bail after police had raided his home on August 1 last year and found heroin with a street value of £500 and cocaine worth £80.
Also found were two phones with text messages from drug customers.
Lavelle confessed to police that he was selling drugs on behalf of another man to fund his own addiction. He had 35 previous convictions for burglary, theft and possession of a knife.
Lewis had a record of 46 crimes for burglary and theft. The court was told that he had broken into Kidderminster retail market through the roof to steal cable on an earlier occasion.
Sophie Lomas, defending Lavelle, said he had been a drug addict for many years and his associates led him into trouble.
Abigail Nixon, for Lewis, said he also had a long-standing heroin addiction. He stole cable while “trying to make a quick buck”.
Judge Robert Juckes QC told the pair that they knew the value of the copper cable, but luckily the thefts had not caused any delays on the railways.
He had no option but to pass a deterrent sentence on Lavelle for class A drug dealing.