"He clearly had no qualms about his criminality"
Sanjay Singh, aged 40, of Leicester, was jailed for 13 months and two weeks after he bypassed the electrical mains in order to power bitcoin mining machines.
Leicester Crown Court heard he admitted “abstracting” electricity worth up to £32,000 at Leicestershire sites.
One was in an industrial unit in Coalville. The other was in Firefly nightclub in Loughborough, which was closed for the summer holidays at the time.
Singh’s activities were first detected when a power provider investigated a fault at a substation caused by the cryptocurrency mining overloading the system.
An inspection of Singh’s premises revealed he had tampered with the wiring to run more than 200 devices from wiring diverted from the mains supply to an unmetered fuse box.
Investigations indicated he had scammed the power provider out of tens of thousands of pounds worth of electricity.
While the offence at the industrial unit was being investigated, Singh went on to commit the same offence at the nightclub.
Bitcoin mining is finding and adding more bitcoins to the digital currency ‘ecosystem’.
This is done by using computers that generate bitcoins in a process called mining. This is where a computer calculates complex mathematical equations and it can be done at any time of the day.
Bitcoin miners are rewarded for every “block” they complete, with one entire bitcoin currently worth just over £40,000.
However, mining has a huge impact on energy consumption, with some miners using hardware that uses less energy to keep bills lower and maximise their overall profits.
Singh was charged with two counts of abstracting electricity and later pleaded guilty to the charges.
He was sentenced on the basis that the value of electricity stolen was £32,000.
Singh was jailed for 13 months and two weeks.
Andrew Baxter of the CPS said: “This is a highly unusual case.
“The overwhelming majority of times we see offences of abstracting electricity, they are to support other criminal activities such as growing cannabis.
“Bitcoin mining is a legitimate legal enterprise. Sanjay Singh was simply acting out of greed.”
“He was in the business to make money from his bitcoin enterprise but was not honest enough to meet the cost of running the machines required to run the operation.
“He clearly had no qualms about his criminality as he carried on committing the same offence at a different site after he had been caught.
“As well as the dishonesty involved, the way Singh approached both premises left wires dangerously exposed, which put people at risk of serious harm.
“Prosecuting Sanjay Singh required painstakingly piecing together evidence of the work he had done to calculate the value of the electricity he had obtained illegally, as well as establishing that he was responsible for tampering with the power supply.
“We showed the court the level of planning involved to divert the power supply away from the meters, including directing two employees to do the practical work.”