Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds cable burns man 'unrecognisable'

James Sorby
Image caption Sorby was badly injured in a 21,000 volt strike from a live power line

A self-confessed metal thief who was seriously burned trying to steal live power cables said his injuries were so bad his daughter did not recognise him in hospital.

James Sorby, 22, of Cavalier Close, Cross Green, Leeds, was left close to death after being hit with a 21,000 volt shock at a power sub-station.

The impact blew part of his skull off, leaving his brain exposed.

Leeds magistrates gave him a 12-month community service order for burglary.

He said the exact detail of what happened during the incident at Skelton Grange earlier this year was unclear.

He said: "All I can remember is going into the empty warehouse.

Clothes cut off

"I definitely didn't grab the cabling with my hands because I wouldn't do something like that, but I accept I was there to steal the cabling because there was no other reason for me to be there.

"The next thing I remember is the ambulance arriving. I was in a bad way."

Sorby said ambulance staff cut off his clothes.

"There was blood everywhere. It was coming out of the top of my head, my ears, my nose, and from my gums.

"I was taken to hospital, and the first 48 hours were crucial because that's the time when you're said to 'cook' inside.

"The pain was unbelievable and the doctors told me I only survived because I am so young and fit, which also means my injuries won't take as long to heal.

Stuck to pillow

"If I had been older it would have been a lot worse.

"The skin grafts were horrible and they had to take the staples out of my skin while I was awake.

"One morning when I woke the skin which had been grafted on to my face had stuck to the pillow, and it had to be done again."

He said he had not seen his three-year-old daughter until eight weeks after the incident because he was so badly injured.

He said: "When I finally got to see her, she didn't know who I was.

"It wasn't until she could smell me and hear my voice that she realised I was her dad and not some stranger.

"It was a horrible experience to realise that your own daughter didn't know who you were."