Chiswick Cable Thief Jailed For Three Years

Court finds William Wiseman showed "no regard to the law or to society"

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The Police in Chiswick

An unemployed painter and decorator who caused extensive disruption to local rail services after stealing live cable from railway tracks in the Gunnersbury area has been jailed for three years for his crimes.

William Wiseman, 34, of St Thomas Rd, Chiswick, appeared in Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to three charges of theft of cable from the railway and three counts of destroying property. The sentence is one of the first involving someone stealing live railway cable from the tracks.

The court was told Wiseman's cable thieving activities between January and March this year resulted in extensive delays and disruption to services.

On each occasion he entered railway property in the early hours of the morning, cut cable from the tracks and caused damage to critical railway signalling.

BTP Area Crime Unit PC Bob Gee said the most extensive damage was caused at Chiswick on January 5, when 50m of cable was stolen from the tracks.

"Not only did Wiseman risk his life by pulling live cable from the tracks but for very little financial gain he caused untold misery to thousands of commuters," PC Gee said.

An impact statement from Network Rail showed the delays from the January 5 theft affected 59 trains, with 21 of those services cancelled. The court was told the services were impacted because the removal of the cable had caused a loss of power to critical signals. In a worst case scenario this could result in two trains colliding.

PC Gee said two subsequent incidents at Syon Lane and Barnes Bridge had a more minor impact, but still affected on services and commuters.

"As a result of an ongoing investigation, officers were able to link DNA evidence from the scene of the crimes to CCTV showing Wiseman going trackside and dragging bundles of cable away."

"Wiseman’s criminality had a direct impact on services and the ability of the railways to fully operate. For very little financial gain he inconvenienced many people and caused a combined financial impact on the railways of almost £20,000."

In sentencing Wiseman Judge Michael Gledhill QC said he wanted to send a strong message to those minded to steal cable and metal from the railway that they will receive a lengthy prison term. "The theft of cable and metal from railway tracks is increasing. The offence is now very prevalent. The consequences to innocent passengers are appalling not just in terms of potential danger from trains colliding . . . . . but the inconvenience is tremendous."

But he said the father of three, who was making his 40th court appearance, was "totally oblivious" to the consequences to rail staff and to the safety of passengers and given his previous convictions had shown no regard to the law or to society.

After sentencing PC Gee said: "It is pleasing that the court has imposed a jail term to reflect the severity of the offence and to act as a deterrent to others from being involved in cable crime."

October 8, 2008