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Gary Kitchin, from Oatleys Cresent, sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court
Updated 11:29am Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
A LEDBURY man has been jailed for conspiracy to steal large amounts of metal.
Gary Kitchin, from Oatleys Crescent, had a managing role in the theft and disposal of national infrastructure cable belonging to utility companies in the West Midlands.
The 48-year-old organised the theft of the metal, which he then sold to scrap dealers.
Birmingham Crown Court heard on Friday that, between October 2010 and July 2011, Kitchin was paid nearly £100,000 in cash from one dealer in Gloucestershire, the majority of which was proved to be stolen copper cabling.
He recruited a workforce to extract the cabling from the ground and burn off the identifiable plastic sheathing before selling it to the scrap dealers.
This team would travel rural areas at night after identifying locations to steal the cable.
They broke into inspection lids and cut the cable while underground.
After lengthy sections were isolated, they then pulled out of the underground ducting by a 4x4 vehicle and cut into one-metre lengths.
Even though Kitchin did not work and claims no benefits, police enquiries found that he had more than £120,000 in various accounts and had a mortgage-free property in Ledbury, a part share in a home in Weymouth and an apartment in Spain.
Kitchin was sentenced to 38 months for conspiracy to steal and 12 months for money laundering after pleading guilty to the two charges.
Both sentences will run concurrently.
Proceedings are now ongoing to retrieve as many of Kitchin's assets as possible.
Also sentenced for their part in the thefts were Simon Beardsley, aged 49, of Barnard's Green Road, Malvern, Gareth Spooner, aged 30, of Paganhill Estate, Stroud and Alex Carr, aged 29, of Baytree Sqaure North, Stroud.
All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal in October 2013.
"Our operation was a difficult and extensive investigation into the finances and criminality of this organised crime group," said Detective Constable Max Voyce from West Mercia Police's Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
"The disruption and break up of this organised crime group will assure the public that West Mercia Police will employ every means available to them to ensure the security of the national infrastructure and secure prosecutions for all involved in this type of crime."