Rail cable theft earned just £43 scrap...but caused £581,000 worth of travel disruption

Retford train station
Retford train station

A thief caused more than half-a-million pounds’ worth of travel chaos after stealing railway cabling for which he received just £43 scrap value.

Richard Alan Yates sparked huge disruption to mainline services and led to problems for no fewer than 129 trains.

The 22-year-old, who lives on Turner Lane, Boughton, appeared before Mansfield Magistrates’ Court where he admitted the theft.

Outlining the case for the Crown Prosecution Service, Marjorie Kirkham-Smith, the magistrates were told how Yates had removed bricks from the top of a barrier wall to gain access to the rail cables.

About 300 metres from Retford train station , he attempted to burn through the cable on the evening of April 12.

He eventually got away with 80 metres of cabling.

Transport police eventually found forensic evidence at the site and the tools with which they had used to cut the cabling away.

He managed a return of just £43.45 from his haul.

But Network Rail said the cost to the services had come to staggering £581,000.

They later told the Chad that workmen were called to the site after 11pm on April 12, and worked through the night to repair the damage.

The site had been so damaged that more than 190 metres of cabling had to be replaced.

They said six East Coast services from Leeds had to be cancelled and a further seven had to stop short of Nottinghamshire, most of 
which were Grand Central services .

In total, 129 trains were disrupted which amounted to more than 2,900 minutes of delays.

Representing himself at the magistrates’ court Yates , who was dressed in tracksuit bottoms and a hooded top, told magistrates: “I thought it was a dead piece of track because there were barriers at the end of it.”

The magistrates said that for sentencing, the case was serious enough to be moved up to the crown court.

One said: “The consequences were far greater than you anticipated.

“We feel our sentencing powers are insufficient, so we are committing you to the crown court.”

He is due to appear at Nottingham Crown Court on September 2.