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Hapless Darlington burglar who tried to cross Channel in stolen kayak is back behind bars
A HAPLESS burglar who stole a kayak in an ill-fated bid to start a new life in France was back in familiar surroundings last night - behind bars.
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 yesterday 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.
Redford, of no fixed abode, admitted stealing £1,617 during a burglary at a property in Corporation Road, Darlington - where he had lived - 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.
During yesterday's hearing, he admitted the theft of the kayak last month, and Mr Fenney said: "He rather foolishly set off and his hope was to start anew.
"He had gone 'cold turkey' and left drugs behind for a periods of time . . . his motivation was to change. This chap has a great deal of potential."
Judge Howard Crowson told him: "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."
- The RNLI crew of volunteers were tasked by the Coastguard to assist in the rescue and it was stressed they played no part in Redford being arrested
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