Dad charged with son’s manslaughter after he is electrocuted while stealing cable

A FATHER has appeared in court charged with the manslaughter of his son – who was electrocuted to death when the pair attempted to steal overhead cable.

Shaun Stewart
Shaun Stewart

Shaun Stewart, 52, is charged in relation to the death of his 29-year-old son Brent Shaun Campbell, who suffered an 11,000 volt electric shock during the botched theft attempt.

A court heard how on March 26, 2012, the pair travelled to Tyers Hall Pumping Station – a Northern Power Grid circuit breaker near Barnsley, which provides electricity to 3,000 customers in the area – with the intention to steal what they believed was expensive copper cable.

A jury was told it later transpired that the cable they tried to steal was actually made of aluminium – which is worth considerably less than copper.

Sheffield Crown Court heard today that to facilitate the theft, the pair sawed down a pole which supported three overhead cables so that the power would short-circuit and be safe to touch.

But prosecutors say what the pair did not realise is that lines are automatically energised three minutes after a short-circuit occurs.

As a result of the cable being re-energised, ex-soldier Mr Campbell suffered a fatal electric shock and Stewart suffered third-degree burns to his leg, face, and neck.

The court heard that after the incident Stewart returned home to his wife – without their son and suffering severe injuries – and claimed he could not remember what had happened.

An ambulance was called and Stewart was taken to Barnsley Hospital for treatment.

Opening the case, Simon Phillips, prosecuting, said: “When a police officer attended Barnsley Hospital, shortly before 2am on Tuesday, March 27, he asked the defendant how he had got his injuries.

“[Stewart] told him that he and his son had been out together and they had seen torch lights in a field and heard a man shouting. All [Stewart] claimed to remember after that was coming round and not being able to find his son.”

Half-an-hour later Stewart was cautioned, charged and arrested for theft.

The court heard a PC – who had seen the large blue flash when the cables tripped from two miles away – was called to the pumping station following reports from Northern Power Grid employees that a body had been discovered in a field, 40 metres from where an attempted theft had taken place.

When the area was confirmed to be safe at 3.02am, Mr Campbell was found and pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Phillips said: “The defendant was interviewed under police caution 41 hours after he had received the electric shock.

“[Stewart] admitted in interview that him and his son were there to steal cable. He said that he had suggested the idea to his son, he said they both needed money.

“[Stewart] told police their intention had been to take the cable to a scrap metal merchant. But the cable was not made of copper; it was made of aluminium – worth much less than copper.

“He said his previous account had been a lie as he had not realised his son was dead and did not want to get him in trouble.”

Mr Phillips added: “The fact Brent Campbell agreed to go along with the enterprise is not a defence for Shaun Stewart. If both men involved and one of them is killed, the law says the survivor will be responsible for the manslaughter.”

Stewart denies manslaughter.

The trial continues.