Tayside and Central Scotland

Man created fake roadworks in bid to steal phone cable

Dean Monaghan
Image caption Dean Monaghan has a previous conviction for stealing copper cable

An entire town could have been cut off from the telephone network after a man attempted to steal long stretches of BT's copper cable, a court heard.

Dean Monaghan wore a high visibility jacket and used cones and fake signs so he could take the valuable copper.

He set up the bogus roadworks in Blairgowrie, but was caught by police on alert after the town had experienced problems with its phone network.

The 33-year-old, from Glasgow, admitted the offence and was fined £800.

Perth Sheriff Court heard that Monaghan was spotted with another man at 03:00 on 11 November wearing workmen's clothing and using specialist equipment to remove heavy manhole covers.

The men had brought their own traffic cones and roadworks signs to cordon off a stretch of the A923 in the Perth and Kinross town.

Fiscal depute Robbie Brown said: "There had been a recent incident so matters were being monitored. The accused and another person were seen by police officers.

"They had reflective jackets on and road signs and cones were out round a BT manhole cover, exposing copper cabling."

When police asked Monaghan what they were doing, he gave them a company name and told the officers they were sub-contractors cleaning the manhole covers.

"They had a large number of tools - hacksaws, cutters, large chain rope and manhole removing poles. A further two manhole covers had been removed further down the road," Mr Brown said.

"Removing the copper cabling poses an obvious loss to the company and disruption to everybody who may be using the phone system if it goes down because of a lack of wiring."

Previous conviction

Mr Brown said that a lot of effort had gone into the roadworks and told the court it was not an "opportunist incident".

Monaghan had also hired a van to drive away with the thousands of pounds worth of cabling he was planning to steal.

The court was told that the residents of Blairgowrie had been suffering from interrupted telephone service as a result of someone tampering previously with live phone cables.

Solicitor Paul Ralph, defending, said Monaghan earned £400 per week as a scaffolder and had a previous conviction for taking copper destined for a school.

Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist told Monaghan: "There has to be a strong financial incentive to stop people committing crimes like these."

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