Fugitive 'kayak' thief appeared on tv and in magazine during two year police hunt (From The Northern Echo)
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Fugitive 'kayak' thief from Darlington appeared on tv and in magazine during police hunt
A FUGITIVE thief who was on the run for two years appeared on television and in a magazine while police from two North-East forces hunted him.
It has emerged since this week's court case involving kayak man Paul Redford that he was featured in a BBC documentary about homelessness in London.
The 45-year-old - using his real name - also appeared in the pages of The Big Issue, which he sold to shoppers and theatre-goers in Covent Garden.
Redford disappeared from his bedsit in Darlington after stealing a lap-top and charger and £1,617 from neighbours in Corporation Road in August 2011.
Three months later, when he lodged with an old prison pal in Blyth, Northumberland, he went missing from his flat with five mobile phones, a PlayStation, three watches and a jacket.
Redford was wanted by the Durham and Northumbria forces, but despite not lying low, he did not surface until August this year - in the English Channel.
He was trying to paddle a stolen kayak through one of the world's busiest shipping channels for a new life in France when he was rescued by a lifeboat.
A day earlier, he broke into a holiday home in East Sussex, helped himself to food from the cupboards before taking the black boat from outside.
When he appeared at Teesside Crown Court on Monday, he was jailed for two years and five months after admitting charges of theft and burglary.
The court heard that he had been living in London, selling The Big Issue, and had trials for the English homeless football team and played in Paris.
In an interview in the magazine published last October, Redford reveals how he was sleeping on the floor of a friend's council flat in Shoreditch.
He told how many of his customers - visitors to the Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet School - gave him gifts such as pots and pans and a phone.
The father-of-two said he had been selling the magazine for five years, worked in hotels and had also been a street fundraiser and a football coach.
"The last flat I had was when I moved up north last year to be closer to my two daughters," said the recovering heroin addict. "They know all about hostels.
"They know about the dangers of drugs and they’re not stupid. I’m not the world’s best dad but I don’t have to worry about them, which is a relief.
"The girls didn’t know I was homeless until they saw me on television. They were just watching this BBC programme called On the Streets and saw me. "They got some grief at school. Kids were saying to them: 'Your dad’s a homeless bum'. I’ve got no secrets from them now, though."
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