A man tried to make possibly the worst-judged getaway in history on a canal boat through the longest lock system in Britain
A suspected arsonist who tried to make a getaway on a stolen canal boat had to turn around after attempting to pass through Britain’s longest lock system.
The 27-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of arson, is thought to have started several fires on the evening of July 4th before stealing the vessel as he tried to flee the scene.
However, the man’s getaway was not as hasty as he might have hoped after he failed to pass through a two-mile stretch of 29 continuous gates, Caen Hill locks, on the Kennet Avon Canal in Wiltshire.
Despite making it through the first four gates, the man who has not yet been named, turned the boat around before setting it on fire and escaping on foot.
Prior to stealing the canal boat, the suspected arsonist set a bag of rubbish alight inside a derelict building in the grounds of St Peter’s School in Devizes.
A shed was then set alight, before a third blaze was started on a petrol mower.
The suspect then proceeded to steal a canal boat from its mooring at the bottom of a garden.
Devizes fire station watch manager Pip Flowers said: “It was a very strange night. I don’t think we have ever had a trail of arsons quite like it.
“It seems the arsonist thought they could escape on the boat but hadn’t reckoned with the Caen Hill flight.
“They went through about four locks leaving them open so that water was escaping and then decided to turn around.
“When we got there it didn’t take a lot of putting out. We used the hose and reels and two guys in breathing apparatus went inside.”
Canal boat owner Lionel Gordon, 77, was extremely upset about the theft and subsequent fire, saying: “From the outside the boat does not look too bad but when you go down in the cabin everything is burnt and blackened.”
Following the man’s arrest, he was bailed on suspicion of arson, burglary and theft of a motor vehicle.