A twisted child abuser who faked his own death to avoid a court trial was spotted tucking into a Tesco breakfast.
Sick Paul Bairstow penned a series of handwritten ‘suicide notes’ to various friends and his lawyers on the day before his trial at Exeter Crown Court.
He vanished in woodland near Newton Abbot, Devon, and police issued a public appeal in which they asked for help to find him and said they were concerned about his welfare.
He has a history of inventing stories about his life and claimed to be a 37-year-old ex Royal Marine when in fact he was more than ten years older and had never been in the forces, Devon Live reports.
A large scale police manhunt was underway when witnesses said they spotted him “in good spirits” chowing down on a breakfast at a local Tesco.
He was arrested three weeks later and held in custody prior to his sentencing for his twisted abuse of a seven-year-old girl.
He eventually appeared in custody after being tracked down by police through his use of telephones and bank cards.
The 56-year-old monster was branded a “coward” by a judge as he jailed him for six years.
The court heard how Bairstow was “deliberately manipulative” in an attempt to “evade justice”.
Judge David Evans said: "You were cowardly as you tried to avoid the moment of truth.
"You were just cowardly in avoiding the moment of truth. Your failure to attend gave rise to considerable anxiety and disruption and the deployment of police resources.
“It caused a delay in a trial with child witnesses. It went back a day and that is significant in anyone’s eyes. It caused the victim additional upset and it was another three weeks after the verdict that you were located.”
The court heard Bairstow had lied to the victim's mother claiming to be 12 years younger than he actually was, and that he was a former Royal Marine.
Prosecutor Felicity Payne said Bairstow told many lies.
Miss Payne said: ”On the day before, he hand delivered suicide notes to various individuals including his solicitor, resulting in a large police search.
“They searched a rural area where his phone was last used in the middle of the night, checks were made on his car and his bank card and a Facebook appeal was made.
“On the second day of his trial the officer in the case told the court that his phone and vehicle remained active and friends had called the police to say they had seen him and he was in good spirits.
"He was seen having breakfast at the café in a Tesco store. We say this was a deliberate failure to attend and the suicide notes were a deliberate and manipulative attempt to evade the course of justice.”
Bairstow was convicted in his absence by a jury of two charges of sexual assault on a girl aged under 13, one of engaging a child in sexual activity and absconding.
His lawyer claimed Bairstow was "paralysed with fear" about the court trial because he did not want to put the child witnesses through it.
Miss Virginia Cornwall, defending, said Bairstow had intended to take his own life but not gone through with it. Police found tablets and a noose in his car when they arrested him.
But Mr Evans rejected that the sick child abuser had intended to kill himself.
He was jailed for a total of six years and six weeks and placed on the Sex Offenders' register for life.