66,000 volt shock thief ran from police

A SCRAP metal thief who suffered a 66,000 volt electric shock when he tried to steal copper from an electricity substation was so desperate to escape detection he fled the scene after being resuscitated by his sister.

Matthew Atkinson, aged 21, suffered life-threatening injuries which put him in hospital for nine weeks but was so desperate to get away from police he ran away from Thurcroft electricity substation, Sheffield Crown court heard.

Police and paramedics rushed to at the scene on Green Lane, Rotherham, after receiving a 999 call from his sister Kimberley.

But when they arrived Kimberley and their younger brother Ashley, who were also involved in the raid, denied knowing their own brother.

Matthew Atkinson - described as having an "appalling record" by the judge - suffered excruciating burns to 28 per cent of the skin on his body and had to undergo several skin graft operations.

Peter McCormick, director of health and safety at CE Electric UK which owns the site, said after the incident he had suffered horrific burns and was "extremely lucky to be alive" - warning that a shock of just 230 volts was enough to kill.

Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, told the court at around 7.30pm on Sunday April 4 2010, Northern Grid and YEDL became aware a circuit had tripped at Thurcroft Electricity substation.

They discovered the substation had been broken into and copper had been unbolted.

She said: "There had been a flash burn and at the same time a 999 call was received by Kimberley Atkinson reporting that her brother had been electrocuted.

"She was seen by the police at the scene, along with her brother and it was clear he needed medical attention but he ran off.

"He was later taken to hospital. He had sustained a large number of burns to his body."

She said Kimberley, 23, of Lincoln Street, Maltby, and Ashley Atkinson, 17, of Hawksworth Road, East Herringthorpe, initially denied knowing Matthew, but later admitted he was their brother.

When he was eventually interviewed by police, Matthew claimed he had been attacked by an unknown man and said he could not remember anything about that day.

Miss Quinney said the attempted theft of copper wiring had cost YEDL 2,000 and the total cost of repairs to the site was 10,000.

The siblings later admitted one count each of attempted theft.

Sentencing Matthew Atkinson, of Queen Mary Street, Maltby, to 12 months' imprisonment suspended for two years, Recorder Ray Singh said he had limited sympathy for him but it was something he had brought on himself through his own dishonesty.

He added: "You have an appalling list of previous convictions including numerous offences of dishonesty."

They included possessing an offensive weapon, breaking into Corus and stealing metal and breaking into Yorkshire Windows by scaling a six foot fence.

He was also given a 12-month supervision order and made subject of a curfew for four months between 9pm and 6am.

Kimberley Atkinson was given a 12-month community order and ordered to do 120 hours of community work.

Ashley Atkinson, also described as having an "appalling" list of previous convictions, was given a nine-month youth rehabilitation order and nine months' supervision by the probation service.

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