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Major burn for would-be cable thief as police issue warning on railway crime.

Byline: BENJAMIN WRIGHT newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

A THIEF who gave himself a major electric shock and severe burns while trying to steal live cable has been jailed for 27 months, court officials said.

Mark Lawrence Blay was hospitalised after cutting into an electricity cable carrying 11,000 volts.

The incident left him with deep burns to his left hand.

British Transport Police (BTP) said its officers were called to Pontyclun railway station, on October 17 last year, following a report of an attempted cable theft from under a railway river bridge.

A spokesman said: "It was discovered an electricity cable carrying 11,000 volts had been partially cut and black burn marks could be seen on the wall where the attack took place.

"A number of cut marks were also found on railway signalling cable."

BTP officers also found burnt clothing, tools and a rucksack.

Forensic analysis confirmed the presence of Blay's DNA.

"It was discovered Blay had been admitted to Royal Glamorgan Hospital with severe burns and skin loss to his left hand before being transferred to Morriston Hospital's burns unit," the spokesman added.

The attempted theft resulted in loss of power for about an hour to 2,400 Western Power customers, a court heard.

The total cost of repairing the cable was PS13,899.

Police said Blay, 40, of Mildred Street, Beddau, Pontypridd, had initially denied all knowledge of the attempted theft and claimed to have sustained his injuries when he hit an electrical cable while digging his back garden.

Inquiries showed there were no cables under the garden.

Appearing for sentence at Cardiff Crown Court, Blay was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment relating to charges of criminal damage, going equipped for theft and attempted theft.

Court officials said he was also given an additional nine-month custodial term for four drugs offences, which included possession with intent to supply amphetamine and cannabis.

Detective Inspector Mark Cleland said after the case: "This is yet another example of the huge impact metal theft has on our communities, with many homes and commercial premises suffering as a result of his greed," he added.

"There is a common assumption that cable theft is a victimless crime, with the only effects being felt by the railway industry and telecommunication and electrical companies - this is simply not the case, as was demonstrated by this crime.

"Stealing cable is also incredibly dangerous. As serious as his injuries were, Blay was extremely fortunate to escape with nothing but severe burns - he could quite easily have been killed.

"Crime which involves the theft or attempted theft of cable attracts strong penalties and I hope the sentence handed to Blay will act as a deterrent to others."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 20, 2012
Words:450
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