Swansea, south Wales, UK. Wed 29 May 2013 Pictured: Houses in the area of Swansea that suffered a power cut when Richard Howells tried to steal power cables. Re: A bungling thief cut off power to 1,000 homes when he tried to steal cable from a mains power line which he planned to sell to pay his £140 phone bill. One of those left without power on April 4 was his own grandmother, who found herself stranded on her electric stairlift until engineers could fix the problem. Richard Howells, 21, saw sparks fly from his fingers and set himself on fire when he used a screwdriver to try prise out

- Image ID: D8MK9H
Swansea, south Wales, UK. Wed 29 May 2013 Pictured: Houses in the area of Swansea that suffered a power cut when Richard Howells tried to steal power cables. Re: A bungling thief cut off power to 1,000 homes when he tried to steal cable from a mains power line which he planned to sell to pay his £140 phone bill. One of those left without power on April 4 was his own grandmother, who found herself stranded on her electric stairlift until engineers could fix the problem. Richard Howells, 21, saw sparks fly from his fingers and set himself on fire when he used a screwdriver to try prise out
ATHENA PICTURE AGENCY LTD / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: D8MK9H
Swansea, south Wales, UK. Wed 29 May 2013 Pictured: Houses in the area of Swansea that suffered a power cut when Richard Howells tried to steal power cables. Re: A bungling thief cut off power to 1,000 homes when he tried to steal cable from a mains power line which he planned to sell to pay his £140 phone bill. One of those left without power on April 4 was his own grandmother, who found herself stranded on her electric stairlift until engineers could fix the problem. Richard Howells, 21, saw sparks fly from his fingers and set himself on fire when he used a screwdriver to try prise out part of the 11,000 watt cable. City magistrates were told he almost died and had to roll on the floor to put the flames on his body out. He was tracked down by police after they checked local hospitals for people who had been admitted with burns. Howells’s solicitor, Phil Huxtable, said: “It’s only by luck he is able to face to court today. He came close to killing himself through his own stupidity.” Prosecutor Julie Sullivan said Western Power were called and told a large number of homes had been affected by a power cut and the problem stemmed from an electricity pole between Cadle Mill and Westdale Road, Blaenymaes. Engineers arrived and found a tough mains cable, which comes out of the ground, had been cut through. Mrs Sullivan said: “The only way it could have been cut through was in a deliberate act and would have been extremely dangerous for the person carrying out that act. There could have been a fatality.” The repairs took four hours and cost more than £4,800. Howells . Police helicopters were deployed to try find the culprit, but when that did not turn up results, police checked hospitals and found two people had checked in with burns injuries. Howells had serious injuries and he had been transferred to the burns unit, Mrs Sullivan said.

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