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Thief caught on eBay faces jail after stealing penny farthing and trying to ride from Honiton to Exeter on Christmas day

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: March 17, 2014

Robert Bastin, lighting a cigarette outside Exeter Magistrates' Court where he admitted stealing a retro penny farthing outside a house in Honiton. Picture: Nick Irving of Exeter

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A 20 year old man is facing jail after he stole a penny farthing bicycle so he could get back home - 14 miles away.

Robert Bastin stole the old fashioned bike from the garden of a house in Honiton, east Devon, on Christmas Day and pedalled all the way back to Exeter where he was living at the time.

A court heard he had enjoyed a Christmas drink with his brother when he realised he was stuck on how to get back to his own flat.

Bastin then decided to sell the penny farthing which was worth £350 on E Bay- but it was the police who 'bought' it as they investigated the theft of the old fashioned bike.

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Defence lawyer Peter Woodley told a court:"He was trying to get home. He had had a Christmas Day drink with his brother and it looked like a good idea.

"But a penny farthing is not the easiest thing to return to its owner."

He said his client did not cycle back to Honiton on the bike but put it on E Bay two weeks later and it was the police who 'secured' it and bought it and returned it to its owner.

Bastin, of Honiton, Devon, admitted stealing the bike which he did while on bail for other offences. He also admitted aggravated vehicle taking and not having no insurance or licence on December 6th.

Exeter magistrates court heard that Bastin was riding a motor bike at 5am on the A30 near Exeter airport at speed.

Police said his riding was 'erratic and wobbly' and he was doing around 20mph over the speed limit before he rode through a red light and through a No Entry sign.

Police did not pursue him because they felt it would be unsafe to do so but Bastin was arrested but denied any offences. But he was trapped when police found his clothes and DNA from his motor cycle helmet that he wore.

Mr Woodley said the joyriding offence happened at 5am when the main road was 'relatively clear but said it was not the 'worst case of excessive speed' or dangerous driving.

He said the jobless labourer was not coping with life over Christmas after losing his job and splitting up from his partner and young child.

"He had no money and was not thinking straight," said Mr Woodley who said the court had the power to imprison him for a maximum of 12 months.

The magistrates ordered an all options pre sentence report which included custody and bailed Bastin to come back to court next month when he discover his fate.

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