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Barefoot Bandit jailed for spree

A youthful thief who rocketed to international notoriety as the "Barefoot Bandit" while he evaded police during a two-year crime spree has been sentenced to more than seven years in state prison after pleading guilty to dozens of charges.

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, showed no reaction as the sentence was delivered by a judge who took pity over his bleak upbringing at the hands of an alcoholic mother and a series of her convict boyfriends - a situation she described as a "mind-numbing absence of hope".

"This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways," Judge Vickie Churchill said.

"I could have been reading about the history of a mass murderer. I could have been reading about a drug abusive, alcoholic young man. That is the triumph of Colton Harris-Moore - he has survived."

Harris-Moore's daring run from the law earned him international fame and a movie deal to help repay his victims after he flew a stolen plane from Indiana to the Bahamas in July 2010, crash-landed it near a mangrove swamp and was arrested by Bahamian authorities in a hail of bullets.

The court proceedings consolidated cases against Harris-Moore in three counties in Washington state. He has already pleaded guilty to federal charges in Seattle and will be sentenced for those crimes early next year, but the sentence is expected to be shorter than his state term.

Harris-Moore faced a sentencing range of just over seven years to just under 10 years. "Colton's very pleased," said his lawyer John Henry Browne. "He was expecting the worst."

Prosecutor Greg Banks said he was glad the case is over and he could live with the sentence. "I can see why people are sympathetic to him," Mr Banks said. "It's still a significant amount of time for someone who's never been in the adult system."

Fox bought the movie rights in a deal that could be worth 1.3 million dollars, and Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the movie Milk - about the gay rights activist Harvey Milk- - is working on the screenplay.

Harris-Moore does not get to keep any of the money under the terms of his federal plea deal.


From Belfast Telegraph