eBay sale attempt led to penny farthing thief's arrest

A man who stole a penny farthing bicycle to ride home was only caught when he tried to sell it on eBay, a court was told.

Robert Bastin was arrested after police investigating the theft spotted the old-fashioned bike online and "bought" it, Exeter magistrates heard.

Bastin, 20, took it from a garden in Honiton last Christmas Day in order to cycle to his then home in Exeter.

He had been drinking and thought it a good idea to take the bike.

'Quite Dickensian'

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

"He saw the back wheel sticking out of a bush, bizarrely not the larger front wheel.

"He pedalled it to Exeter. At that time of year, Christmas night, no one noticed. It was quite Dickensian. Stupidly he tried to sell it."

Jobless Bastin listed it on e-Bay two weeks later stating it was "not really my thing, prefer my unicycle".

Police saw the listing and successfully bid £75 for it - the penny farthing had cost owner Dale Trott £350.

Already on bail

Bastin accepted the bid and when the "buyer" collected it from his home he was arrested and the bike was returned to Mr Trott.

The defendant, now of Honiton, Devon, admitted stealing the bike which he did while on bail for other offences.

He also admitted aggravated vehicle taking on 6 December where he was in trouble for taking a motor bike along the same road and going through a red light.

Magistrates sentenced Bastin to an 18-month community order. They also issued him with an 18-month driving ban and ordered him to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay the £75 fee the police paid for the penny farthing.

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