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Jail for train cable thieves

PUBLISHED: 16:35 01 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:48 23 August 2010

BANGED UP: Peter Penn.

BANGED UP: Peter Penn.

THREE men who put lives at risk and caused widespread disruption by stealing live cable from railways tracks have been jailed for a total of 17 years. Peter Penn, 49, and Peter Taylor, 53, and Stuart Smith, 27, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last Thur

JAILED: Peter Taylor.

THREE men who put lives at risk and caused widespread disruption by stealing live cable from railways tracks have been jailed for a total of 17 years.

Peter Penn, 49, and Peter Taylor, 53, and Stuart Smith, 27, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last Thursday.

The trio were charged with conspiracy to steal and damaging property being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

Penn was sentenced to five years' prison while Taylor and Smith were each imprisoned for six years, for the campaign across Kent which caused more than £200,000 in damage and inconvenience.

PENNED: Stuart Smith.

They targeted the tracks up to 20 times, including those in Sole Street, Cobham, creating havoc for commuters between December 2007 and August 2008.

DC Leigh Marshall, one of the investigating officers, said: "Not only did this group risk their lives by pulling live cable from the tracks but for very little financial gain they caused untold misery to thousands of commuters.

"The cost to Network Rail in terms of repairs and materials was estimated at £65,000 and the cost in terms of disruption and loss of service was estimated at £159,000."

After sentencing, he added: "It is pleasing that the court has imposed jail terms to reflect the severity of the offences and to act as a deterrent to others from being involved in cable crime.

"Stealing cable puts those responsible in great personal danger of electrical shock and being struck by a passing train - those who trespass on to the railway to steal cable are not just risking a prison sentence, they're risking their lives."

The group targeted railway lines between Rochester and Sole Street and Maidstone to Strood, cutting live cable from the tracks and causing damage to critical railway signalling.

All three were arrested in February after a vehicle was recognised as one spotted at a theft site and two of the gang spotted on CCTV.

Penn, of Church Field, Snodland, pleaded guilty after his DNA was linked to a shirt worn in one of the raids and burnt in a bonfire.

Taylor, also of Church Field, Snodland and Smith, also from Snodland, were charged and pleaded not guilty, with a jury later finding the two men guilty on both counts.

Andrew Munden, Network Rail's route director for Kent, added: "As well as causing major disruption the theft of equipment from the railway costs the industry millions of pounds each year - money which cannot then be spent on improving services for passengers.

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