[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 18:13 GMT
Ex-railway worker guilty of arson
Allan Nicol
Allan Nicol was told to expect a lengthy prison sentence
A former rail worker has been found guilty of putting lives at risk during a spate of vandal attacks which caused widespread delays on the railways.

But Allan Nicol, 48, from Birmingham, has been cleared of a charge of reckless criminal damage.

Nicol previously admitted cutting cables and setting fire to signalling equipment in 12 attacks over 17 months across the West Midlands.

He will be sentenced on 7 March at Birmingham Crown Court.

His vandalism cost the railway industry millions of pounds, with nearly 7,000 train services cancelled or delayed.

He targeted his attacks to cause as much delay and disruption as possible to hurt Network Rail
Det Supt Michael Field

Some major routes, including the West Coast Main Line, were disrupted for several days.

Anger at firm

Nicol, who worked for a railway maintenance contractor and then a railways recruitment firm, denied two charges - of reckless criminal damage, and arson being reckless as to whether lives would be endangered.

The prosecution had claimed a fire in 2005 in the relay room in Rugeley, Staffordshire, which contained signalling equipment, could have caused an explosion.

Nicol had admitted 12 charges of criminal damage.

The court heard Nicol was angry that Network Rail was not using the recruitment firm for which he worked and at being made redundant.

He was arrested after dropping a receipt for a snack at the scene of one fire in Rugeley, Staffordshire, which was started on 3 November 2005.

Severe disruption

The vandalism attacks took place in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and Worcestershire during 2004 and 2005, and had a knock-on effect over a massive area of the rail network.

After the trial a Network Rail spokesman said: "These attacks caused severe disruption for thousands of passengers across the West Midlands and beyond.

"They cost the railway industry millions of pounds, money that would otherwise have been invested back into the network to improve services for passengers.

"Sustained malicious attacks of this nature are extremely rare and we thank the British Transport Police for their role in bringing the culprit to justice."

'Determined saboteur'

The father-of-six has been told to expect a lengthy prison sentence.

Judge Robert Orme told him there was a lack of sufficient explanation as to why he carried out the attacks, adding his response to his anger was "extraordinary".

Det Supt Michael Field of British Transport Police said he led a "detailed and protracted investigation into a sustained attack on the rail system by a determined saboteur".

He added that Nicol's campaign of vandalism was unlike anything the British Transport Police had seen before.

"Normal vandalism is not targeted, it is random," he said.

"He targeted his attacks to cause as much delay and disruption as possible to hurt Network Rail."

Allan Nicol was described as a loner with a grudge

Rail vandal 'caught by receipt'
09 Jan 07 |  West Midlands
Ex-rail man 'sabotaged' network
08 Jan 07 |  West Midlands
Rail commuters facing long delays
08 Sep 05 |  West Midlands

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific