Power station metal thief’s prison term cut

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Courts: Reports from the law courts.
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A TOP judge has lamented the plague of metal heists sweeping the country – but slashed the jail term of a thief who ripped thousands of pounds worth of piping from a Sheffield power station.

Ashley John Taff, 25, was caught through DNA evidence, having left blood behind him as he made off with metal worth £4,000 from a plant in Barrow Road, Sheffield, in February last year.

Taff, of Newman Drive, Wincobank, Sheffield, was jailed for two and a half years at Sheffield Crown Court last October, after pleading guilty to theft.

Lord Justice Aikens, Mr Justice Blake and Judge David Radford QC, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, cut his term to 22 months.

The court heard there had been a burglary at the power station on February 17 last year and £4,000 worth of copper was taken, causing a power failure in part of the plant.

Taff was not responsible for that break-in but, the day after, he entered the same part of the power plant and committed his theft, taking another £4,000-worth of metal.

Mr Justice Blake today condemned the offence, saying that high copper prices had led to “a spate of metal thefts” which he categorised as “a particular scourge” on society.

He slammed “the disruption to public utilities, the damage to the public interest and indeed the health and safety risk that these kinds of cases cause.”

However, allowing the appeal, he concluded: “There is force in the submission that the starting point of 40 months before discount for a guilty plea was too high.”