Two South Yorkshire scrapmen who received stolen copper cable belonging to BT and Network Rail have appeared in court.
When police searched their Barnsley yard they found a substantial quantity of stolen cabling – worth more than £100,000.
Kerry Firth, aged 67, of Hall Royd Lane, Silkstone Common, and William Firth, 30, of Ladyroyd, Silkstone Common, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convert criminal property at an earlier hearing.
Judge Paul Watson, sentencing the pair at Sheffield Crown Court, said the real issue was the value of the granulated copper involved – it was not possible to say precisely how much.
But he added: “I am satisfied nevertheless the value of the property involved ran into significantly over £100,000 in this case. It may have been substantially more.”
Over six months from November 2011 to April 2012 the pair took part in a conspiracy to acquire copper which had been stolen and they knew was stolen – primarily from BT but also a substantial amount from National Rail.
The judge said: “The copper and cabling from which it was derived are expensive to produce and replace not to mention the large disruption that is caused when they are stolen by those who provide them to you.
“Without those who receive such stolen property there would be significantly less temptation for those who steal it to do so. This was the acquisition of criminal property on a large scale. It went on for a significant period.”
Judge Watson said Kerry Firth as a part-time director of the company involved ‘turned something of a blind eye’ to what was going on.
It was less about ‘pure greed’ and more to do with a failure to properly manage the firm. “This was a short cut to higher profits,” he said.
The judge told Kerry Firth: “You have been throughout your life a hard-working, conscientious family man who has run his own business and brought it up through difficult times. It is a significant pity that you at 67 should appear before this court.”
He said William was also a 'conscientious family man' but had put the business first and ‘participated in a culture which gave rise to the acceptance of stolen property on an almost routine basis’.
William Firth was given to 21 months in jail and Kerry, whom the judge said played a lesser role, to 12 months in prison suspended for a year.
Both men admitted earlier conspiring to convert criminal property on the day of a proposed trial.