'Homeless' thief takes rail copper cabling to pawn for cash

THE copper thief, who turned the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane rail commute into six-hour round trips for weeks, needed extra cash because he was living under a bridge after having a fight with his parents.

Blair Edward Hudson, 28, regularly crept onto the railway tracks between Caboolture and Elimbah from February to July last year to steal copper earthing straps and grading rings so he could pawn them at a Caboolture scrap metal place.

Copper was worth $5-6 per kg at the time which was more than other scrap metals.

Hudson, from Nambour, netted $3449.40 for his 500-plus kg haul.

He pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court yesterday to stealing, fraud, interfering with railways and endangering passengers - 39 offences in total.

Crown prosecutor Victoria Trafford-Walker said Hudson had a previous conviction for the same thing at Beerburrum.

She said tampering with the copper cabling on the railway tracks had the potential to cause great havoc.

"The conduct caused risk and disruption to railway commuters," she said.

"He's fortunate the impact was inconvenience rather than harm."

Defence barrister Lars Falcongreen said his client had financial, emotional and mental health difficulties after a fight with his family.

He said Hudson spent a lot of time on trains travelling to and from jobs which was how he cooked up the lucrative copper stealing plot.

Mr Falcongreen said Hudson was sleeping rough when he was arrested but had no problems with alcohol, drugs or gambling.

"He thought he could take some wire without there being a great, excessive risk because it would just put them back to the situation they had in the old tracks (before upgrades)," he said.

Judge Richard Jones said there was a risk to employees and "we can't rule out a risk to the public".

He sentenced Hudson to15 months jail, but he will be immediately released after the 299 days already served, to complete two years of probation.

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