Motorail Logistics repair, refurbish and store railway rolling stock at what was formerly the MoD’s Central Engineer Park at Long Marston, the court heard.

There had been a number of thefts from the site, and in the early hours of 3rd February the police were alerted to suspicious activity, said prosecutor Lal Amarasinghe. The defendants had scaled a fence to get in, and had started to identify lengths of copper cable to steal. When officers arrived they found £3,000 worth of cable had been put to one side ready to steal.

The three thieves fled and hid on the huge site, but were found with the aid of the police helicopter and arrested, added Mr Amarasinghe.

Jailing the three men, Mr Justice Saunders said thefts of copper cable had become prevalent, and sentences had to be passed which would deter others.