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Jail for cable thieves who delayed 176 trains in West Wales

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Court Result

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Two men who carried out a series of cable thefts in Llanelli during the summer, which impacted on thousands of passengers’ journeys, have been jailed.

 

In total, 176 trains were affected as a result of the thefts – all of which took place between 4 June and 14 June – while the total cost to the railway industry is estimated to be more than £45,000.

 

Following an extensive investigation by our officers, the men responsible have now been brought to justice.

 

Appearing for sentencing at Swansea Crown Court on Wednesday, 2 November, Marquis Mervyn Evans, aged 24, of Stradey Hill, Burry Port, was sentenced to 20 months’ imprisonment, while Matthew Frederick Lilleyman, aged 30, of Llys y Gof, Llanelli, received an 18-month custodial sentence.

 

A third man, 20-year-old Shane Lee Goddard, of Brynawelon, Llanelli, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to carry out 140 hours of unpaid work for the community.

 

All three pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to theft of railway cable, with Evans admitting four separate offences, while Lilleyman pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and Goddard pleaded guilty to one count.

 

The court was told details of four separate incidents on the same stretch of railway at Llandeilo Junction, Llanelli. During the first two thefts on 4 June, around 550 metres of signalling cable had been cut and stolen, with a further 60 metres of cable stolen during another two thefts on 5 and 14 June. Each incident resulted in a total loss of signalling and all trains in the area being stopped.

 

A Vauxhall Corsa found near the scene of the 14 June theft was found to be insured in Goddard’s name and contained a hacksaw and other tools, as well as a receipt from a scrap metal dealer for £477, paid to Evans. All three men were also captured on CCTV buying hacksaws from a nearby Tesco store around the time of the thefts.

 

Evans, Lilleyman and Goddard were arrested soon after and later charged with theft of railway cable.

 

Detective Constable Dan Murdoch, of British Transport Police, said: “The perception that these are victimless crimes could not be further from the truth. Cable theft costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year and forces delays which have a huge impact on passengers and train services. The overall cost implications of these thefts alone amounted to £45,957.

 

“Stealing railway cable is also incredibly dangerous, and Evans, Lilleyman and Goddard displayed a flagrant disregard for their own safety, and that of others, for no reason other than their own greed. During the first theft on 4 June, a train was brought to a stop just 20 metres from where they were on the track. Had the loss of signalling occurred just a few seconds later, the consequences could have been very different.

 

“Not only did their actions have an obvious impact on the travelling public, with more than 170 trains being delayed or cancelled, but there is also the knock-on effect on the industry, as maintenance staff had to be taken away from their scheduled work to carry out emergency repairs.

 

“When you consider the very real risk of serious injury – or even death – through electrocution and the fact that signalling cable has no real value to anyone outside the railway industry, it really isn’t worth the huge risks involved for potential thieves.

 

“BTP, Network Rail and the criminal justice system takes a dim view of this type of activity and simply will not tolerate any behaviour which threatens the infrastructure of the country. I hope these incidents and subsequent sentences handed down by the court will serve as a stark warning to others seeking to profit from stealing from the railway.”

 

Dave Cartwright, operations risk advisor for Network Rail Wales, added: “Cable theft is not a victimless crime. Train delays and cancellations directly affect people getting to work, visiting family and travelling to hospital appointments.

 

“Cable thieves disrupt people’s lives and we will continue working with British Transport Police to protect the rail network upon which our economy relies.”

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Marquis Mervyn Evans

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Matthew Frederick Lilleyman

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