Thief who stole a canal boat near Harborough sparking the slowest ever local police chase has been convicted in court

The court heard that the defendant took the drastic action after a breakdown with his mental health

Monday, 8th February 2021, 5:40 pm
Updated Monday, 8th February 2021, 5:42 pm
A thief who stole a canal boat near Harborough sparking the slowest local police chase ever has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

A thief who stole a canal boat near Harborough sparking the slowest ever local police chase ever has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Ian Silman, 47, took the £44,500 narrow boat from North Kilworth Marina because he was depressed and suicidal, a court heard.

He used to own the craft but had sold it 18 months earlier, Leicester Crown Court heard.

Silman, from Blackpool, painted over its name, Elusive No 1, in a vain bid to hide its identity before chugging away at 6am on Saturday September 5.

But he was quickly tracked down and arrested as he headed off along the Grand Union Canal at a stately 4mph.

Silman admitted theft of the canal boat and causing damage to its paintwork.

Sarah Phelan, prosecuting, told the court: "The defendant and his father, over a period of years, beautifully restored the narrowboat.

"His father passed away and he sold it on to the current owner 18 months before the theft."

Miss Phelan said the boat owner said he was particularly upset and felt let down the craft was stolen by the previous owner as he thought they "had a good relationship”.

Judge Philip Head told Silman: "You've pleaded guilty to stealing a valuable narrow boat that had previously been yours.

"You and your father had lovingly reconditioned it.

"Your father died two years earlier and you then sold it to your victim.

"Events in the period up to September last year took you down mentally.

"I sentence you on the basis you'd reached a point where you'd decided to end it all.”

He added: "You decided to get yourself on board that boat and take it away to achieve your aim.

"It involved significant planning and travelling to Leicestershire.

"It was something of a breach of trust and you made attempts to conceal it by disguising it.

"I accept this was out of character."

Ian Way, defending, said: "He genuinely regrets what he did.

"He was working as an electrical maintenance engineer before being furloughed during the lockdown.

"His relationship had ended a few months earlier and he became depressed, finding himself alone and began drinking."

Silman was handed an eight month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was also ordered to do 140 hours of unpaid work and pay £375 costs.

Silman was arrested after Leicestershire and Northamptonshire police teamed up to stop him on the canal just a few miles away.

Market Harborough police tweeted at the time: "In a career first, following a 13 mile 'follow' we completed a hard stop on a stolen canal boat!"

Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole tweeted: "Well they say that you never know what to expect.

"In a landlocked force we have pursued a barge.

“One in custody."

To talk to people about mental health issues, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.mind.org.uk