A DRUG addict who caused thousands of pounds of damage when he stole a length of cable worth £60 from an electricity sub station has been jailed.
Robert Miles, 34, of South Parade, Cleckheaton, was sent to prison for four years after stealing the cable from a sub station in Church Road, Roberttown, which left 200 homes including Roberttown Care Home and Roberttown School without electricity all day.
It was initially thought damage would run to £500,000 but Leeds Crown Court heard this had been revised to £54,000.
The court heard Miles tried to steal cable from an empty fish and chip shop on May 24 and another building on June 1, but both times was caught red handed. On the second occasion he was found laying in long grass with 250 metres of cable.
On July 23 at 3am he broke into the sub station in Church Road and prised off 10ft of cable. He caused £250 damage to the sub station, and caused a huge power surge in the village.
Prosecutor Jeremy Hill-Baker said people had reported televisions blowing up, lights popping and burning smells, and household appliances burning out.
He said the pump operated beds at Roberttown Care Home broke and so great was the surge that a plug had shot from one side of a room to the other. The building was evacuated.
He said: “The experience was quite frightening. The residents became very upset.”
Mr Hill-Baker said Miles had a criminal record stretching back 20 years.
He told the court: “Because of his past offending, Miles was top of the list of people the police wanted to speak to. They went to his house and found the cable in his living room.”
Miles admitted the offence in a police interview, saying he expected to get £60 for the cable which would be spent on heroin.
Mitigating, Robin Frieze said Miles had written a letter to the court saying how sorry he was, and that he had been ‘horrified’ to learn the extent of the damage and distress to the people affected. He admitted two offences of burglary, one of theft and one of public nuisance at last Friday’s hearing.
The court heard he had been sentenced to a community order for stealing cable, which was still active when he caused the damage at Roberttown.
Judge Kerry MacGill said anyone would know how dangerous stealing electric cable could be – and said his sentence should serve as a warning to others how serious the crime was.
After the hearing Supt Dave Lunn said: “We are very pleased with the sentence and hope that it sends a clear message to people involved in this type of crime.
“He caused massive disruption to hundreds of homes.”