Police cordon

A man who was registered as blind broke into a derelict school and was chased by police into a river before he was caught.

Police were alerted to a break-in at the school and caught Paul Anthony Gibson, 55, red-handed before he tried to escape by jumping into a river and wade away from officers.

Prosecutor Sarah Magill told Carlisle Crown Court how police caught the blind scrap metal thief stealing pipes from the boarded-up old school in Appleby on 24 August.

At the school's entrance there was a pile of metal and seven hacksaw blades, a lantern and a holdall.

"Within the property they found the defendant, who was carrying an armful of metal pipes," said Magill and when tackled, Gibson said: "The owner said I could have what I wanted."

Gibson resisted attempts to apply handcuffs and jumped over a bridge nearby, the Carlisle News and Star reported.

Ian Hudson, defending, said Gibson was registered blind, and was homeless at the time. He said he had entered through an open entrance and the building was already damaged.

"None of it (the damage) falls at his doorstep because the Crown have absolutely no proof it was him," Hudson said.

Judge Tony Lancaster heard the defendant, of Swinton, Manchester, was registered blind and had 191 previous offences to his name, 54 of which were for theft or similar dishonesty-style crimes.