A SOUTH Tyneside woman has appeared in court charged with being involved in a £2m copper cable theft conspiracy from the railway system.
Laura Harris is one of seven people accused of being involved in the alleged scam against Network Rail, which is claimed to have involved 27 separate thefts of cabling between January 2011 and March this year.
The 27-year-old, of Froude Avenue, South Shields, appeared before Newcastle Crown Court yesterday for a preliminary hearing into the case.
The court heard an investigation by the British Transport Police into the alleged conspiracy involved examination of phone records, cell site analysis, records from scrap merchants and vehicle hire agreements.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court: “All defendants have been sent in relation to a conspiracy to steal various types of copper cabling used by network rail.
“The investigation spans between January 1, 2011 and March 23, 2013. I believe it involves 27 separate incidents.
“The prosecution evidence is in relation to cell site analysis, hiring of vehicles, weighing in of copper at scrap metal dealerships and associated evidence.”
The court heard the trial, which has a provisional date of September next year, could last up to six weeks.
Also appearing in court were Darren Jones, 44, of no fixed address, Robert Baker, 28, of Eastbourne Square, James Curry, 28, of Calshot Road, Boden Hughes, 26, of Fulwell Road, Anthony Innins, 41, of Plumtree Avenue and George Pascoe, 38, of Rowlandson Terrace, all Sunderland.
None of the seven were asked to enter a plea to the conspiracy charge they face.
They will all be asked how they plead at the next hearing.
All, except Jones, who was remanded in custody, were granted bail until they are back in court on March 4 next year.