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Three jailed for attempted theft of metal from electric
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Three men have been sentenced in connection with the attempted theft of metal from an electricity substation in Salford that left one of them in a critical condition in hospital.

The incident left one small business with a bill of £100,000 and almost led to the loss of 40 jobs.

Martin Gavin (born 9/6/65) of Hope Hey Lane, Little Hulton suffered an electric shock of 11,000 volts which left his life hanging in the balance.

He spent one month in hospital after he suffered severe burns and loss of blood. He was found guilty of burglary after a trial at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court and was today, Friday 27 July 2012, sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Michael Seward (born 01/01/61) of Old Lane, Little Hulton pleaded guilty to burglary at an earlier hearing and was today sentenced to three years.

Ross Cahill was a security guard working at the site, and assisted the pair. Cahill (born 14/01/88), of Pemberton Street, Little Hulton pleaded guilty to burglary and perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to three years.

In the early hours of 16 June 2011, Gavin and Seward, both on a curfew following a previous metal theft offence, tried to break into the substation at a site in Clifton that used to be run by Pilkington’s Tiles.

The pair used an abandoned pallet truck to force open the substation, which had been barricaded with metal sheets by the owners in an attempt to deter metal thieves.

Using a crow bar the pair broke into the substation and then Gavin used a socket set to open up the equipment in the substation, but then suffered the electric shock.

Seward then dragged Gavin away and went to a security cabin that was staffed by Ross Cahill, who was well aware of what was going on.

As Seward was anxious not to be caught because of the curfew, he left Gavin in the hands of Cahill, who called an ambulance.

The substation was being used by a small tile factory that operated 24 hours a day.

The incident and loss of power meant that the total cost to them was about £100,000. While the money was recovered through their insurance, it took almost one year to be paid out and almost led to the loss of 40 jobs. The value of the scrap metal they tried to steal was just £50.

Detective Constable Jim Harris from Swinton CID said: “This incident illustrates clearly not only the extreme lengths that metal thieves will go to, but the severe impact their actions have.

“The company affected by this incident nearly went bust and 40 people almost lost their jobs for the sake of scrap metal worth just £50.

“GMP launched Operation Alloy, its dedicated response to tackle metal theft shortly after this incident because metal thieves cause misery and financial hardship for their victims.

“People can help us by making their homes, businesses and community buildings less vulnerable to thieves by using security lights, fencing, alarms and good locks to keep thieves at bay.

“They can also help us by providing information about suspicious activity either directly to us on 101 or anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”