US `Barefoot Bandit` jailed for more than 7 years

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, pleaded guilty to his crimes in the northwestern US state of Washington.

Updated: Dec 17, 2011, 18:11 PM IST

Los Angeles: A teenager dubbed the "Barefoot
Bandit" was sentenced to more than seven years in jail for a
string of audacious crimes across the United States, which
ended with his arrest in the Bahamas.

Colton Harris-Moore, 20, pleaded guilty to his crimes in
the northwestern US state of Washington, where he was flown
last year following his arrest after a high-speed boat chase.

Harris-Moore -- whose nickname stems from the discovery
of bare footprints at his crime scenes -- admitted charges
including bank robbery, stealing an aircraft, flying a plane
without a license and stealing a boat.

Judge Vickie Churchill said Harris-Moore`s childhood was
"little better than a dog`s" with an abusive and alcoholic
mother, although that could not excuse his crimes.

"This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it`s also a
triumph of the human spirit in other ways," she said, calling
his upbringing a "mind-numbing absence of hope."

But imposing the more than seven year sentence for 33
felony charges -- 32 of which Harris-Moore admitted to -- the
judge said: "The damage to his victims was high, and they
continue on."

A 2009 criminal complaint alleged that Harris-Moore stole
a USD 340,000 Cessna plane from Idaho and flew it to
Washington after committing a string of burglaries and vehicle
thefts in the United States and Canada.

He was accused of residential and commercial burglaries,
vehicle theft and assaults on law enforcement officers, the
complaint added.

Prosecutor Randall Gaylord told the court how
Harris-Moore stole a crowbar and bolt cutters from a hardware
store -- then used the tools to break into the store again.

"It shows planning, sophistication, premeditation, all
the kind of things that run counter to what ... some of the
other experts may say about him," he said.

Harris-Moore was arrested in July 2010 in the Bahamas,
after a dramatic high-speed boat chase on Bahamas Harbour
Island, one week after police found the wreckage of a stolen
plane they believe he flew to the archipelago.

His youth and the bold nature of his crimes have turned
him into a folk hero for some, who have romanticised him as a
latter-day Billy the Kid.

The judge yesterday voiced sympathy for Harris-Moore, but
said she had no alternative to jailing him.

PTI