Burglar sent to prison after failing to kayak to France

But stealing one is … (courtesy of Canoe London)

Background

In 2011, Paul Redford stole “a laptop and £1,500 in rent money from flats where he was living in Darlington” (presumably a burglary) and also “stole goods worth £1,145 from a friend’s house in Blyth” (this seems to have been charged as a theft). He was charged with these offences but, instead of going to Court, he then went to ground, down south, for a couple of years.

Having got himself ‘clean’, earlier this year he found himself, on the south coast, penniless and hungry. With 27 previous convictions for 83 different offences (many of burglary and theft) he felt that he had no prospects for the future and decided to head off to France in the only thing available – a kayak (which he stole from outside a holiday home – theft number two).

He didn’t get too far in his bid to freedom – concerned bystanders thought that it may be a suicide bid and called the emergency services. A RNLI boat picked him up after he’d gone about a mile and brought him to land, where he was later arrested.

Sentence

Mr Redford was sentenced to a total of 2 years and 5 months. We don’t have the sentencing remarks, or the breakdown, but as a professional guess we would go for this being a ‘third strike’ burglary, so the minimum sentencing provisions apply. This means a minimum sentence of 3 years, with a discount of 20% (the maximum permissible in that case) for a plea of guilty.

Normally, an offence of failing to surrender to bail would attract a consecutive sentence (see here for the sentencing guidelines), but in a case like this, where the Judge would probably have given a lower sentence, but for the mandatory provisions, it is not a surprise that the sentence was concurrent.

The theft offences were less serious and so probably got a lower, and concurrent, sentence.

As to the sentence for the burglary? Looking at the guidelines, it would seem that Mr Redford has little to complain about.

Territorial Waters

If someone makes a bid for France, are the police allowed to chase after them to make an arrest, like what they do in the films?

It doesn’t seem to actually apply in this case as when the RNLI turned up, they were there to rescue, not arrest, him. Had he declined their services, they wouldn’t have had the power to detain him.

The police have a general power of arrest within the ‘inland water’ (anywhere up to 12 nautical miles from land – this comes from s2, Art III, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1958 (1982 Annex), as implemented by s1 Territorial Sea Act 1987).

A nautical mile is more than a ‘landlubbers’ mile (1,852m) and so Mr Redford was never in danger of causing a headache for the police by getting out of the ‘internal waters’ of the UK.

At this point, it can get into very murky and interesting territory legally (see the history of Sealand, where a High Court Judge ruled that various weapons charges couldn’t be prosecuted against a Mr Bates, the self-declared King of Sealand, as it was outside the UK’s territorial waters), but we will have to wait for another day, with a more ambitious canoeist, before looking at that…

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