A thief who tore 800 metres of cable from the East Coast Main Line has been jailed for a year.
Durham Crown Court heard how Kevin Skelton, 21, and his gang went back to the same area of the main line near Chester-le-Street, County Durham, over five successive nights and ripped up 267kg of cable.
The thieves then placed the cable across the line so passing trains would cut it into four-metre manageable strips they could carry.
Skelton was caught out after selling the strips at a local scrap yard and giving his real name but a former address.
Steven Orange, prosecuting said: "The cable sold for £1,068 but the overall cost was estimated at £4,748 through accrued losses and potential repair bill, for line operator Network Rail."
Skelton, who was traced to Dorset Avenue, Barley Mow, County Durham, claimed his share of the cable was just £300.
He admitted theft between July 10 and 15.
Paul Cross, mitigating, said: "Plainly, where live cable is stolen from the railway, there are all sorts of serious consequences to rail services."
While sentencing Skelton, Recorder Ray Singh said : "It may have been redundant, but this was a considerable length of cable, with the high prices at sale making it attractive to thieves."
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