A bungling gang of cable thieves from Northamptonshire, who were caught after leaving their van at the scene of the crime, have been handed sentences.
Brian Chapman, 47, of St Leonards Road, Far Cotton, Northampton was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court on Wednesday, June 24.
At an earlier hearing the court was told Chapman and two accomplices, Adam Furnell, 23, of Cowper Road, Wellingborough, and Aaron Adamson, 22, of Mackworth Green, Wellingborough, had cut cable on a stretch of railway track in Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, on the evening of Wednesday, 27 November, 2013.
But the inept thieves were later apprehended as the gang fled on foot, leaving their Ford getaway van close to the line, containing tools and an axe covered in insulating tape.
Police found the vehicle the following day and checks found the van belonged to Chapman.
Following sentencing, DC Matthew Nolan of the British Transport Police said: “Cable theft is not a victimless crime. It compromises the safety of those who work and travel on the rail network, causes delays and thousands of pounds worth of damage.
“I hope Chapman uses his time in prison to reflect on the seriousness of his actions.”
The trio had intended to steal the cable, but fled the scene when they saw lights, which they had believed to be police cars, in the distance.
Officers arrived to find various types of cable piled up close to the line. They also discovered the abandoned Ford van.
Chapman reported his van stolen the following day but, when questioned, denied ever having visited Steeple Claydon.
DNA checks on the axe handle and spit on the railway line proved to be a match for Furnell and Adamson, and they were arrested in March 2014.
The court was told analysis of Furnell’s phone revealed he had been in regular contact with Chapman, both before and after the offence.
Chapman continued to deny any link to the offence, and, when Furnell and Adamson were charged with theft, Chapman was issued with a summons which he failed to attend.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with theft and perverting the course of justice in October 2014.
All three men pleaded guilty to theft in court. Chapman also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing.
He failed to appear for sentencing on Thursday, June 11. However, on Wednesday, June 24, he did appear and was given 20 weeks jail for theft, 32 weeks for perverting the course of justice and two weeks for initially failing to appear for sentencing, to be served consecutively.
Adam Furnell and Aaron Adamson were sentenced in 2014.
Furnell pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced to 200 hours community service.
Adamson pleaded guilty to theft and was jailed for eight months. He was sentenced to a further month, to be served consecutively for failing to answer bail.