Man tried to steal from explosion site
AMAN has admitted attempting to steal from the site of the Bosley mill disaster days before the first anniversary.
Lee Brian Johnstone, 32, was caught red handed by police at Wood Flour Mills on the evening of July 10.
Officers were called at 7.30pm to reports that four men had entered the site and were attempting to steal scrap metal.
While Johnstone was captured and arrested three other men, who were all wearing dark clothing, fled via the River Dane.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service launched its boat rescue team to assist with a search but were unable to trace the trio.
A series of explosions destroyed the wood flour factory on July 17, 2015.
Derek Moore, 62, Dorothy Bailey, 62, William Barks, 51, and Jason Shingler, 38, were killed in the tragedy.
The cause is still being investigated.
Mr Shingler’s body has never been recovered.
Johnstone, of Second Avenue, Kidsgrove, initially denied the charge of being found in an enclosed area for the purpose of theft but changed his plea on the day of trial.
He was sentenced to a community order with six weeks curfew and ordered to pay courts costs of £200.
At the time police described the scrap thieves as ‘despicable’ and ‘appalling’.
The other offenders were never identified or traced.
Police are still hoping anyone with any information will contact them.
Detective Inspector Louise Cherrington said: “Metal theft comes in many forms and affects everyone − in some cases those involved put themselves at great risk.
“We hope that this case will serve as a warning to others that those involved in this type of crime will be arrested and positive action will be taken.
“Metal theft is not a victimless crime. It can cost companies vast sums of money to replace and, in some cases, it means the production process is interrupted, adding to the cost to the business.
“Cheshire Police is committed to working alongside the local community − and local businesses − to further reduce the number of incidents.
“If you see anyone acting suspiciously around residential properties or industrial sites or witness anyone stealing metal please call Cheshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”
Four people died in the disaster at Bosley Wood Flour Mills