Death linked to cable thefts

A man's body has been found on a railway line in Essex. Police say they think that he may have been cutting an overhead live cable which carries 25 thousand volts. The wire had been completely severed.

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Death a 'stark warning' against railway trespass

Railway line
Investigators arrive at the scene where a man's body was found Credit: Steve Huntley

Network Rail has issued a statement warning people not to trespass on railways after a man was electrocuted in Essex this morning. His body was found lying close to the tracks at Hadleigh just before seven o'clock.

Network Rail said police, ambulance, and rail staff attended the scene, where it was confirmed that the person was dead and that the return conductor wire – live electrical cable which carries 25,000 volts – had been cut.

The company said the death is currently being treated as unexplained; however British Transport Police are investigating the possibility that this death is related to an attempted cable theft. Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director, said it should act as a clear warning:

“This incident shows in the clearest possible terms the dangers of trespassing on the railway. Unfortunately this person has paid the ultimate price.

The circumstances of this tragic incident are not yet clear, however I would warn anyone tempted to trespass on the railway to think again.”

Police at scene
Police are investigating a link with the attempted theft of cable Credit: Steve Huntley

c2c services between London Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness have been severely disrupted this morning while police carry out their investigations. Once these are complete Network Rail engineers can carry out repairs to the damaged overhead cables.

While the number of cable theft incidents nationwide has dropped in recent months as a result of increased activity by British Transport Police, Network Rail and train operators, it remains one of the biggest causes of delays and disruption.

A Private Member’s Bill is currently before Parliament which proposes changes to the law governing the sale of scrap metal. If it becomes law, it will help to eradicate much of the illegal market in stolen metal, reducing the incentive to steal.

Mr Ward continued: “Cable theft is a major issue on the railway, costing tens of millions of pounds a year and causing unnecessary disruption. We will continue to do all we can to stop these thieves but it is clear the law needs substantial change to take away the easy market for illegal scrap.”

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Railway death: British Transport Police statement

British Transport Police Statement: "At 6.51am this morning, Wednesday, 27 June, BTP were called to the Castle Lane area of Hadleigh, Essex between Benfleet and Leigh-on-Sea following a report of disruption to power lines in the area and a body on the railway embankment.

“BTP, Essex Police, the Ambulance Service and Network Rail attended and the body of a man in his 40s was found. He appears to have been electrocuted. This death is currently being treated as unexplained. The possibility that this death is related to attempted cable theft is one line of enquiry.

“Officers are working to clear the line as quickly as possible, and establish the identity of the deceased as well as the circumstances surrounding his death.”