Caught red handed in Fresh­wa­ter

Two men charged with cop­per theft and chop­ping down util­ity poles

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Two males from the Fresh­wa­ter area ap­peared in Pla­cen­tia Provin­cial Court Mon­day, May 12 to face charges of theft un­der $5,000 and mis­chief over $5,000.

Michael Garfield For­ward, 34, from Fresh­wa­ter and Thomas Wil­liam O’Reilly, 36, from St. John’s ( for­merly Fresh­wa­ter) face the charges af­ter cut­ting down four red pine util­ity poles and at­tempt­ing to steal cop­per wire on Sun­day morn­ing, May 11.

The pair was ar­rested af­ter Const. Fred­er­ick Pa­quet of the Pla­cen­tia RCMP caught them in the act.

Pla­cen­tia and Whit­bourne RCMP were no­ti­fied of a util­ity pole that had been chopped down just af­ter 10:30 a.m. Af­ter Pa­quet searched the area, more hewed poles were found.

One of the men was stand­ing at the bot­tom of a pole hold­ing wire, while the other was on the pole, which had been cut down, chop­ping wires. The pole was stuck on some trees at a “30 to 40 de­gree an­gle,” said RCMP Const. Tony Sea­ward.

The ac­cused were found with a chainsaw, hack­saw and axe in their pos­ses­sion.

About 10 grams of mar­i­juana was found on the pole, leading to a charge of civil pos­ses­sion for For­ward.

One of the poles that had been cut down had a trans­former at­tached to it, leading to the fluid in­side leak­ing into the soil.

A cleanup crew was on­site May 12 to de­con­tam­i­nate the area.

New­found­land Power has been re­plac­ing poles in the com­mu­nity, so there was no power to the ones af­fected. They were go­ing to be taken down at a later date.

Al­though the es­ti­mate of dam­age was not avail­able, a spokesper­son for New­found­land Power did con­firm it costs an aver­age of $1,700 to erect a util­ity pole in this prov­ince.

For­ward and O’Reilly will re­turn to Pla­cen­tia court July 23.

Four util­ity poles were cut down in Fresh­wa­ter May 11 dur­ing cop­per theft.

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