Burglar's desperate bid to escape across the Channel in a kayak ended in failure (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Burglar's desperate bid to escape across the Channel in a kayak ended in failure
A FUGITIVE burglar stole a kayak before taking to one of the world's busiest shipping lanes in an audacious bid to start a new life in France.
Paul Redford - wanted for crimes in Darlington and Northumberland - set off across the Channel wearing just a child's life jacket.
The 45-year-old was approached by a concerned lifeboat crew just two-and-a-half miles into his highly hazardous voyage and was asked if he would like a lift back to the Kent shore.
He told the crew: "That could be a good idea because those ships are very big out there."
A spokesman at Littlestone-on-Sea lifeboat station said: "Earlier he had spoken to an angler on the beach and asked for a last cigarette because he said he didn't think he was going to make it across.
"He was a quiet unassuming man. We brought him aboard together with the kayak and put an adult's life jacket on him.
"Hed been wearing a kiddies life jacket which had been in the kayak when it was taken.
"He was quite amenable when we brought him ashore. We gave him a cup of tea and a bun and then the police took him away."
Yesterday (FRI) the man - described by his solicitor as a "gentleman burglar" - appeared at Teesside Crown Court via videolink.
He was warned that as a third strike burglar he will face a minimum three year jail prison sentence.
Once Kent Police questioned him about the kayak - taken from a holiday home near Folkestone a fortnight ago - he was returned to the North-East.
There he was quizzed about a 2011 burglary at a house in Darlington and a theft in Blyth, Northumberland.
Yesterday, Redford appeared via video-link from prison to pleaded guilty to two charges.
He admitted stealing 1,617 during a burglary at a property in Corporation Road, Darlington, in August 2011.
He also entered a guilty plea to the theft of five mobile phones, a PlayStation, three watches and a jacket from Blyth, Northumberland, in November 2011.
He will be sentenced in a month's time after Probation Service reports are prepared.
Judge Howard Crowson remanded Redford, of no fixed abode, in custody until September 30.
His lawyer, James Fenney, said Redford was arrested near Dungeness nuclear power station on the morning of August 14 after trying to reach the Continent to start a new life.
Mr Fenney said: "Looking at his record, whichever way this plays out, a full pre-sentence report would be needed."
Judge Crowson told Redford: "Because of your history, it is a near inevitability of the type of sentence and the sort of length."