Man steals copper pipes and taps from former Norwich school building

A father-of-four stole copper pipes and taps from a former school building at the City Academy site in Earlham Road, Norwich.

Stephen Weldon, 44, from Globe Place, near Chapel Field Road in Norwich, pleaded guilty to the theft and possessing a stanley knife in a public place, when he appeared before city magistrates yesterday.

As reported, police were called to the site before 5am on August 16 after security staff detained Weldon as a trespasser.

The building contains asbestos, and as a precaution the fire service and ambulance were contacted and attended a custody centre to decontaminate Weldon. Emergency service colleagues also attended Earlham police station to decontaminate officers who had dealt with him.

Prosecuting, Denis King told the court that a security guard was patrolling the school grounds at about 4.45am on August 16.

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He said: 'He saw Weldon within the grounds carrying a white plastic bag, having just climbed the fence to the school. He was detained and police arrived at about 5am. Copper pipes and taps were found in his bag, and a stanley knife was also found. He admitted stealing the pipes and taps to sell for scrap.

'The building is effectively a demolition site and the items taken were of nominal value. No compensation is sought.'

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Weldon also admitted being in breach of a conditional discharge given for shoplifting.

For Weldon, Arthur Balls said that, while the theft of copper pipes was an emotive issue, this was low level.

He said: 'This is not the same as stealing lead from church roofs or items from the railways lines. This was a low level theft, from a demolition site. The contractors have already removed fixtures and fittings from the site, and what he took was the remnants of what the contractors did not want.

'The knife was not used in dangerous circumstances and was purely in his possession. It was used to take lagging off the copper pipes.

'Mr Weldon is going through a difficult period financially. His benefits have been stopped while he gets a medical report. It was a desperate act.'

The court heard that Weldon has three children and a partner in the area and another child in Scotland. The case was adjourned for reports, and magistrates said they were looking to punish Weldon by way of a community penalty in the medium range with a possible curfew.

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