Metal thieves in West Hill given ‘wake-up call’

Two men who pleaded guilty to stealing metal from West Hill were handed conditional discharges by magistrates and told it should be a ‘wake-up call’.

Walter Lee and Patrick Mahon, both 21, admitted to taking �100 worth of scrap from a utilities firm replacing a water main in the village last month.

The men, who are gypsies and live at Princes Paddock in Farringdon, were given two-year conditional discharges by magistrates sitting in Exeter on Tuesday.

A 14-year-old boy was also charged with the theft, but pleaded not guilty and his case was dismissed.

The court heard how a resident phoned the police on Thursday, February 9, after seeing men load pieces of metal from behind a road barrier into a white Ford Transit van.

Miss Baker, prosecuting, said officers stopped the defendants’ vehicle in Exeter around midday, and found the old water main in the back.

A representative from South West Water confirmed it had been removed by their contractor, Dare Utilities, in West Hill.

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Initially the men said they had bought the metal from a workman while on their way to Ottery St Mary, but later admitted to stealing the scrap, which they intended to sell to a dealer in Exeter.

Magistrates said they did not ‘take the matter lightly’, and hoped their arrest and conviction would be a ‘wake-up call’ to the two defendants, who were also each ordered to pay �30 costs.