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From stealing sweets to daring prison breaks: The story of France’s infamous gangster Redoine Faid

After a three-month manhunt French police finally caught up with Redoine Faid on Wednesday, but who is the notorious gangster who keeps leaving French authorities red-faced?

 
Redoine Faid, 46, broke out of the prison near Paris with the help of two accomplices who used smoke bombs and angle grinders to make their way into the facility's visiting room where Faid was talking to a brother.
 
The men quickly made a spectacular escape by helicopter in an operation which lasted just 10 minutes.
 
And this isn't the first time the well known gangster has made headlines. 
 
So, what do we know about him?
 
His life of crime started early 
 
Faid was born to a large family in Creil in northern France where they lived on a housing estate. It was here that he was finally arrested on Wednesday.
 
Aged just six, he committed his first theft when he left a supermarket with a shopping trolley full of sweets. 
 
He has previously said in interviews that he first knew stealing was his vocation aged 12 and he later became involved in more serious crime, eventually earning the nickname the “terror of Creil” from the local police. 
 
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Police launch manhunt for notorious French gangster after brazen helicopter jailbreakPhoto: AFP

In 1995, he committed his first serious robbery aged 23 when he held up a branch of French bank BNP Paribas in his hometown and took the family of the director of the bank hostage. 
 
In 1998, he attacked a cash-in-transit van in the northeaster Paris suburb of Villepinte and was sentenced to 18 years of behind bars. 
 
This isn't the first time he has escaped 
 
In April 2013, Faid staged another shameless jailbreak by pulling a gun from his bag in the visitor's room of the prison near Sequedin in northern France and taking four prison guards hostage.
 
Faid then used a tissue-box containing explosives to meticulously blast his way through four gates on his way to the car park, where he released his prisoners and set off in a car.
 
Photo: AFP
 
The torched vehicle was later found by the side of a road near Lille.
 
Police tracked him down in the suburbs of Paris and arrested him at the end of the following May. 
 
He loves gangster movies 
 
At a Paris film festival in April 2009, Faid approached Michael Mann, director of the 1995 gangster film “Heat” starring Al Pacino and Robert Niro, telling him: “You were my technical adviser.”
   
He wrote that he had watched the film dozens of times to perfect his bank-robbing prowess.
 
In one of the two books he has written about growing up as a criminal in the suburbs of the French capital, he wrote that he had seen “Heat” dozens of times and that it had inspired his robberies of cash-in-transit vehicles.
 
His writing career led to police giving him another nickname, “The Author” and Faid, who has a cult following in the tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris where he grew up, has made several television appearances promoting his work.
 
Notorious thief flees French jail by helicopter
Photo: AFP
 
Sentenced to 25 years
 
He has been behind bars since mid-2011 for breaking the terms of his parole over past convictions for bank robberies and brazen heists of cash-in-transit vehicles.
 
In April, Faid was sentenced to 25 years for masterminding a botched armed robbery in 2010 in which French policewoman, Aurélie Fouquet was killed.
 
Faid had earlier been released from a 10-year stint behind bars after convincing parole officers that he regretted his criminal past and was determined to start afresh.
 
“My demons aren't asleep, they're completely dead,” he previously told LCI
 
He also said in an interview with Canal Plus TV that he had “turned a page”. 
 
Apparently not.

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CRIME

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.

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