A thieving rambler who spent four months roaming the country staying in more than 80 empty caravans was yesterday spared jail.
Alan Campbell, 39, slept in other people's vacant static caravans and helped himself to their food as he trekked for 100 miles. The freeloader eventually gave himself up after running out of places to stay – and being too cold to continue, a court heard.
Campbell admitted two break-ins at Exeter Crown Court and asked for more than 80 at 16 separate camp sites to be taken into consideration.
But he escaped with a 12-month suspended jail sentence after telling the court he had finally found a permanent place to live.
Campbell started his coastal caravan "holiday" in Weymouth, Dorset, in July 2012 after his release from prison for a previous theft. His freebie tour took in Dorchester and Bridport before crossing into Devon for picturesque stopovers in Budleigh Salterton, Seaton and Exeter.
But it came to an abrupt end in Kingsbridge, when he handed himself in to police because of the cold weather.
Campbell has since been helped by a homeless charity and is now living on benefits in Exeter.
Judge Phillip Wassall said he was willing to spare Campbell a further stint behind bars because he had made "positive efforts" to turn his life around.
He said: "You have made considerable inroads in dealing with your accommodation problems which has been at the back of this offending for which I am sentencing you.
"There are other issues as well – gambling, alcohol and other things – which you need to address.
"I am persuaded that you have done sufficient to turn your life around and I can accept that you are well motivated now, which you haven't always been in the past."