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'He is not a master criminal': Huge haul of stolen copper wire caused thief's car wheel to fall off

PUBLISHED: 15:38 06 February 2019

Copper wiring found in the car  Picture: Norfolk police

Copper wiring found in the car Picture: Norfolk police

Archant

A driver caused the wheel to come off his vehicle when he overloaded it with thousands of pounds worth of stolen BT copper cabling, a court heard.

Police uncovered the haul in the back of a Mitsubishi Shogun which Robert Knight had been driving after officers were tipped off about the state of the vehicle .

The car was seen in McDonald’s car park in Clenchwarton Road, King’s Lynn with one of the tyres shredded off, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Danielle O’Donovan, prosecuting, said that when police arrived, Knight, 29, had managed to move the vehicle to the nearby Premier Inn car park and was waiting for someone to come and fix his wheel following the blow-out.

Ms O’Donovan said the value of the copper cabling was £5,000 but BT said that it would cost more than £34,000 to replace.

She said the cabling was thought to have been stolen from Lincolnshire.

A small bag of cannabis was also found.

Knight, of Goldings Close, Haverhill, admitted handling stolen goods and possession of cannabis on November 12.

Ian James, for Knight, said that he had agreed to move the copper cable as a favour.

“He got roped in to help someone else to move a load of wires and does so completely ineptly. He is not a master criminal.”

Mr James said the vehicle attracted suspicion with the state of the wheel and said: “He has learned his lesson. At the time he did not appreciate how serious it was. He is under no illusion about that now.”

Sentencing him to 20 months in jail, suspended for two years, Judge Andrew Shaw said although Knight thought it was just about £5,000 worth of cable in scrap value the real value to BT was far higher and thefts of this kind had an impact on its infrastructure.

“This is far more serious than likely you thought.”

He said there had been a degree of amateurism to his involvement and said: “You were somewhat out of your depth.”

He also ordered Knight to do 200 hours unpaid work and imposed a six-month curfew.

He warned him that any breach would mean he went straight to jail.

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