An on the run burglar has been jailed after he admitted stealing a kayak and trying to paddle across the Channel to start a new life in France. Paul Redford, 46, was wanted for crimes in Darlington and Blyth, in Northumberland, when he took the boat from a holiday home in East Sussex. The career criminal set off across the Channel wearing just a child's life jacket but was rescued as he neared one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
He 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 ashore. Redford, jailed for two years and five months on Monday for theft and burglary, replied: "That could be a good idea because those ships are very big out there." Prosecutor Rachel Masters told Teesside Crown Court that he has 83 offences on his record, including 72 for dishonesty, and a number of those for burglary.
Judge Howard Crowson told Redford, of no fixed abode: "This last offence doesn't fit the normal pattern of a greedy burglar, but really a man acting out of desperation. You have a really very bad record for dishonesty, with a large number of burglaries." A spokesman at Littlestone-on-Sea lifeboat station said Redford was picked up off the Kent coast, about two-and-a-half miles off Dungeness power station.
He 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. He'd 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."