Four men who caused more than £50,000 of damage to trains in Leeds and Sheffield have been sentenced for a 10 month-long vandalism spree.
A British Transport Police investigation found the gang caused criminal damage at locations across the network in Sheffield and Leeds, targeting trains belonging to Northern, East Midlands Trains, Virgin Trains West Coast and Virgin Trains East Coast.
The men also caused damage to the railway to gain access to trains in the vandalism spree, which was carried out between January and October 2017.
Four culprits were identified by the British Transport Police and sentenced this month, as well as receiving restraining orders forbidding them from being in possession of any form of graffiti tool.
David Laing, aged 43, of Sevenairs Road, Sheffield, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete a 25 day rehabilitation order and to pay a £140 victim surcharge.
Warren Joseph Adkins, aged 31, of Daresbury Place, Sheffield, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 20 days rehabilitation, 150 hours unpaid work and a £140 victim surcharge.
Lee Gibson, aged 28, of Skye Edge Road, Sheffield, received a sentence of four months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and must carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay a £115 victim surcharge.
All three men pleaded guilty to more than 20 offences to conspiracy to commit criminal damage and were sentenced on Friday, December 6 at Sheffield Crown Court.
A fourth man, Elliot Jessop, aged 24 of Stradbroke Road, Sheffield, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, 20 days rehabilitation and a £115 victim surcharge, on Wednesday, December 11.
A report to Crimestoppers led police to identify David Laing as one of the culprits, whose phone records in turn led him to Adkins.
Items seized from his address included spray paint cans, paint-covered clothes and camera footage of the vandalism. Similar items were also seized from Laing’s address.
Phone data, camera images and video footage linked the four to the graffiti spree, and clothing found at their various addresses provided further evidence of their involvement.
DC Lee Parsons said: “This was a complex investigation which saw officers collect various items of evidence which led them to other members of the gang.
"It’s a common misconception that graffiti is a victimless crime - it is in fact vandalism, which has huge financial implications for the rail industry and the very trains you travel on.
“Each individual was responsible for damage to the rail infrastructure which caused trains to be taken out of service for costly repairs which in turn caused delays and inconvenience for rail users.
“Not to mention, trespassing on the railway to cause criminal damage means dicing with death. Trains reach extremely high speeds and strong currents also run through the cables and can pass 650 volts through anyone who touches them.”