Railway metal theft gang jailed

19/12/2012

A gang of thieves were today sentenced to a total of 23 years at Birmingham Crown Court for their part in stealing copper signalling cable and causing over half a million pounds worth of damage to network rail property.

Over a six month period, the eight men from Birmingham travelled to places in the Cotswolds and Warwickshire to steal thousands of metres of copper cables from the railway lines. 

Janet Holman, Senior Crown Prosecutor from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service's (CPS) Complex Casework Unit, said:

"These offences were committed by a highly organised gang who deployed a sophisticated and unique method to strip the railway lines of thousands of metres of copper signalling cable. Through their criminal actions, not only did they put themselves in danger, but also the lives of railway workers and members of the public. Given the relatively high voltage concerned, it is probable that any electric shock received would have caused serious injury.

"In addition to the delays and disruption caused to rail users, the consequential cost to Network Rail is estimated to be in excess of half a million pounds.

"The CPS is determined to take a firm line with metal thieves and, in accordance with the Director of Public Prosecutions' specific guidelines on metal theft and will seek evidential proof of the widespread public harm caused by these acts, beyond the monetary value of the goods stolen, which will allow the court to sentence appropriately.

"This case also provides an excellent example of national teamwork involving British Transport Police based in Bristol, Birmingham, London, Cardiff and Gloucester who worked closely with CPS prosecutors based in Gloucester, and the West Midlands Complex Casework Unit to achieve this successful outcome."

All the defendants were charged with conspiracy to steal and they received the following sentence:

Alexandru Tofaleanu - sentenced to four years' imprisonment

Costinel Mijloc - sentenced to two years' imprisonment

Mihai Mihart - sentenced to 53 months' imprisonment and recommended for deportation

Jan Trofin - sentenced to four years' imprisonment and recommended for deportation

Chris Toader - sentenced to 33 months' imprisonment

Florin Cojocaru - sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment and recommended for deportation

Mihai Binta - sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment and recommended for deportation

Stefanel Ruset - sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment