House boat burglar jumped in Regent’s Canal to flee police

Narrow boats in the Kingsland Road basin. Photo Emma Bartholomew.

Narrow boats in the Kingsland Road basin. Photo Emma Bartholomew. - Credit: Archant

A homeless man jumped into the Regent’s Canal to escape police after he burgled a houseboat “looking for somewhere warm to sleep”.

Louis Lillington, 40 - who has 30 convictions for 45 offences including theft - broke into a narrowboat on November 12 last year, after its owner locked up and went out.

A resident from a neighbouring houseboat in Haggerston heard a crash and called police, who heard banging on board when they arrived.

When police called, Lillington stuck his head out of the broken window and tried to flee by jumping into the canal and trying to flee once he reached the bank.

Police, who threw him floating aids, caught him moments later on the bank, and called for medical assistance fearing he could suffer hypothermia.

They found a leather-bound box had been removed from a locked wardrobe on the boat, and drawers had been rifled through using cloths leaving no forensic traces.

Lillington, who has two previous domestic burglary convictions, pleaded guilty on the day of his trial on August 7.

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John Hunter, for Lillington, explained he had recently split up with his wife, and got drunk after an arrangement to see his children fell through that day.

Mr Hunter added that he had been homeless and sleeping rough for several days before the incident.

He said: “He thought the boat had been left for the winter months, he had the intention of going there to have somewhere warm to sleep on a cold winter’s night.

“If there had been something inside he probably would have taken it, but that wasn’t his original intention.’

Mr Hunter explained his client had been struggling with alcoholism since his father was murdered in the Bahamas in 1993.

Lillington, of Welshpool House, Welshpool Street, London Fields, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.