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Pipe theft caused £43k of damage

PUBLISHED: 10:14 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:41 12 July 2010

A teenager caused £43,000 worth of damage when he helped steal copper piping from houses owned by the United States Air Force, a court has heard.

It had been planned to sell off the metal as scrap but Simon Pearce was caught at the scene by police.

A teenager caused £43,000 worth of damage when he helped steal copper piping from houses owned by the United States Air Force, a court has heard.

It had been planned to sell off the metal as scrap but Simon Pearce was caught at the scene by police.

Yesterday Pearce, 19, of Taylor Road, Diss appeared at Ipswich Crown Court to be sentenced after admitting four offences of burglary and one of cannabis possession.

Judge David Goodin told Pearce that while causing an "astonishing" amount of damage had not been the intention, water pouring from the severed pipes left the US authorities with a major bill for cleaning up and replumbing the properties.

Pearce, who works as a chicken sexer, was ordered to be detained at a Young Offenders Institution for 12 months but Judge Goodin suspended that term for two years.

Robert Sadd, prosecuting, said that in July Pearce, together with two other men, had been driving through the village of Stanton when they stopped outside a row of empty houses owned by the USAF.

The men then used a hacksaw to remove copper piping with the intention of selling it.

Danielle O'Donovan, mitigating, said that Pearce had a turbulent and difficult childhood behind him.

While Pearce had been driving the car that night, it had not been his suggestion to raid the houses. At two of the properties Pearce had not gone inside but had acted as a lookout, said Miss O'Donovan.

Pearce had worked for the same employer since leaving school and was highly regarded with promotion prospects, Miss O'Donovan said. A small amount of cannabis found in Pearce's possession had been for personal use only, she added.

Sentencing Pearce, Judge Goodin told him: "While it was not your intention to wreck these properties that is what effectively happened".

Pearce was also ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid community work during the next two years.

He will also be subject to a 6pm until 4.30am curfew at his home address, monitored by an electronic tag, for 15 weeks.

Pearce was told he must pay £5,000 towards the cost of the damage caused, at £320 a month.


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