Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 14:36 UK

Electrocuted thief 'out of luck'

Kirk Thompson
Kirk Thompson was a heroin addict, the inquest was told

A man was killed trying to steal copper cable which was carrying 11,000 volts, an inquest has been told.

Kirk Thompson, 43, from Bettws, Newport, was electrocuted in April at the derelict Panteg steelworks, in Pontypool, Torfaen.

The former heroin addict's bolt croppers pierced the plastic coating of a cable connected to the National Grid.

Recording an accidental death verdict at Newport, deputy Gwent coroner Wendy James said his "luck ran out".

His body was discovered outside the perimeter fence of the steelworks at about 1000 BST on 12 April.

Two men who were later arrested told police they went to the site in the early hours of the morning with Mr Thompson to steal copper.

They said they carried him from the scene of his death and abandoned him when they thought someone had seen them.

Never has the old saying 'crime never pays' been so graphically illustrated as in this case.

Deputy Gwent coroner Wendy James

Mr Thompson's sister, Samantha Hopkins, said her brother was unemployed and had been a heroin addict, but told the inquest he was "totally clean" for the last eight months of his life.

Det Con Gordon Poole of Gwent Police said Mr Thompson had been at the steelworks a few days before his death to steal some copper.

He said electricity to much of the site had been shut down when an attempt to cut copper wire with an axe had pierced a live cable carrying less than 500 volts.

Despite this, the detective said there were still live cables running to a sub-station.

High voltage

"Scenes of crime subsequently found out one of these cables had a direct connection to the National Grid and was carrying 11,000 volts," said Det Con Poole.

The inquest heard a metal guard covering the high voltage cable had been removed in a bid to steal the copper.

The detective said the former steelworks was awaiting planning permission for a new development and although the site no longer needed high voltage, it was costly to reduce the power.

The deputy coroner said toxicology tests found amphetamines in Mr Thompson's bloodstream consistent with "recent abuse" which she believes would have increased his risk-taking.

"Mr Thompson had no right to be at the site," she said.

"It is perfectly clear he ignored all the warnings over the dangers of electricity.

"He had been at the site in the days before his death but when he returned on 12 April his luck run out."

The deputy coroner added: "Never has the old saying 'crime never pays' been so graphically illustrated as in this case.

"These type of thefts are on the increase and people should heed the warnings of the dangers of electricity.

"If they choose to ignore the warnings they will pay the highest price possible."


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