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4th Jul, 2022

Scrap gang used 4x4 to pull up cable

Malvern Editorial 2nd Apr, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

MEN FROM Malvern and Ledbury are among those who have been jailed after stealing large amounts of metal from across the Midlands.

An investigation was launched almost three years ago into the dealings of Gary Kitchin. The 48-year-old from Oatleys Crescent in Ledbury did not work or claim benefits but had more than £120,000 in various accounts, a mortgage-free property in the town, a part-share in a property in Weymouth and an apartment in Spain.

Police found he had a managing role in the theft and disposal of national infrastructure cable belonging to utility companies, selling it on to scrap dealers across the region.

Between October 2010 and July 2011 he was paid nearly £100,000 in cash from one dealer in Gloucester alone.

He recruited a workforce to extract the cabling from the ground and burn off the identifiable plastic sheathing before selling it on, with the team travelling across rural areas at night.

They broke into inspection lids and cut the cable while underground, pulling it out of the ducting with a 4×4 vehicle and cutting it up into one-metre lengths.

At Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (March 28), Kitchin was sentenced to 38 months in prison for conspiracy to steal and 12 months to be served concurrently for money laundering after pleading guilty to the offences in December.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, a hearing will take place later this year to try and retrieve as many of Kitchin’s assets as possible.

Simon Beardsley, aged 49 and from Barnard’s Green Road in Malvern, was sentenced to 28 months for his part in the scheme alongside Stroud pair Gareth Spooner, aged 30 and from Paganhill Estate, and Alex Carr, aged 29 and from Baytree Square North, who were jailed for 27 months and 18 months respectively. All three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal in October 2013.

Beardsley used his Mitsubishi Shogun 4×4 to pull the cable from the ground and an address in Welland to burn the sheathing from the cable.

When the address was searched in December 2011, officers seized copper cabling, tools and identifiable remnants of sheathing belonging to British Telecom.

DC Max Voyce from the serious organised crime unit said the operation was a ‘difficult and extensive investigation’ into the finances and criminality of the group.

“Their activities were on an industrial scale and inquiries have been conducted with every utility company and nation rail service in the country to ascertain how much of the cable that forms part of the national infrastructure has gone missing in recent years and whether we could link them to Kitchin and his associates.

“We have worked closely with these bodies, especially BT, to gather evidence and intelligence that has led these jail sentences. The work we have done to together has set a benchmark for the efforts made to protect national infrastructure assets.

“The disruption and break up of this organised crime group will assure the public that West Mercia Police will employ every means available to them to ensure the security of the national infrastructure and secure prosecutions for all involved in this type of crime.”

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