Cousins given prison terms over tragic substation raid

IPSWICH: A pair of cousins who broke into a substation and then watched on as a close friend was electrocuted are today starting a jail term for burglary.

Labourers Adam Head, 30, of Fletcher Road, Ipswich, and Frank Day, 27, of Hawke Road, Ipswich, were each sentenced to 16 months in prison for their roles in a break-in at Ransome’s Way on April 14.

Johnathan Ehlert, a 30-year-old father-of-two, was killed after removing copper strips from a switchboard.

Around �30,000 of damage was caused to the substation in the raid.

Head and Day appeared at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, having both pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary with intent to steal at a previous court hearing.

The charges relate to two incidents on the same day - one at the disused Crane factory in Nacton Road and the other at the substation where Mr Ehlert, of Fletcher Road, died.

The court heard that Day, Head and Mr Ehlert had gone to Crane and then to the substation to get scrap metal. When they arrived Day decided to act as a look-out.

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Prosecutor Michael Crimp said: “After breaking in the party removed switch gear and safety earthing from a steel door to the substation.

“Mr Ehlert came back out for a cigarette. Day told him it was too dangerous and urged him to give up.

“But Mr Ehlert told him not to worry - he thought that the equipment was switched off.

“Mr Ehlert went back in. He removed a busbar (copper strips in a switchboard), there was a flash and he was fatally electrocuted.”

Matthew Edwards, mitigating, said: “Both men have lived with the death of a close friend – that is not something that goes away.

“They played a lesser part in the substation burglary. They also thought it was too dangerous and expressed significant reservations.

“Head dragged Mr Ehlert out of the substation, they then stayed with him and called an ambulance, they did not abandon him.

“Times are hard right now. There’s not a lot of work about to keep their heads above water so they turned to crime.

“Both of them have shown remorse. Mr Ehlert’s death has affected them deeply and they have no wish to offend again.”

Sentencing the pair Judge John Devaux told them: “You went there to steal copper and there was significant damage to the substation.

“But the remorse you feel relates to the death of a friend rather than any wrong-doing.”

Mark Vince, the 24-year-old brother of Mr Ehlert, pleaded guilty to burglary at the Crane Factory and will appear at Ipswich Crown Court next month.

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