A COVERT camera was used to capture a railway cable thief in the act, a court heard.

David Corley was secretly filmed stealing the copper cable which had been laid by engineers to link up a generator and mast in the Redcar area.

Teesside Crown Court heard that they were part of a communications network being installed by Network Rail across the country enabling train drivers to communicate with each other and signalling centres.

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Corley was filmed on January 11 this year stealing the cable and when he was quizzed about the offence also admitted stealing a length of cable from the same site in September last year.

The value of the cable stolen was put at £392 and the total costs of repair £2,156.

The 26-year-old, of Ennis Square, Dormanstown, Redcar, admitted two offences of theft and breaching a suspended jail sentence previously imposed on him by the court for a burglary.

Another man who also admitted taking part in the thefts had already been dealt with by magistrates, being given a 12 month community order, 80 hours unpaid work and told to pay £500 compensation.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said the thefts had threatened the safety of railway staff and passengers alike and also interrupted the running of services in the area.

Andrew Turton, mitigating, claimed it would unfair to jail Corley because of his efforts to turn his life around.

He said: “This is a man who has a history of drug-related inquisitive crime which is being dealt with and addressed in terms of a methadone programme which is ongoing.

“He has made positive changes to his lifestyle and has had time to reflect on his foolishness.”

Mr Turton said Corley had started a gardening round and had also been on a plastering course and, given help and assistance, would not appear before the courts again.

However none of this dissuaded Judge Tony Briggs from immediately jailing him for a total of ten months.

The judge, who said Corley’s co-accused was fortunate not to receive the sentence he did, said: “The theft of cable from railways is very prevalent in this area and you were responsible for two such thefts.

“You clearly thought you could get away with it, but were unaware you were being filmed while it happened.”