French armed robber escapes jail in helicopter

The prison at Réau from which Redoine Faïd escaped on Sunday
The prison at Réau from which Redoine Faïd escaped on Sunday Thomas SAMSON/AFP

A notorious career criminal escaped from a jail near Paris by helicopter on Sunday. Police are searching for Redoine Faïd warning that he and his accomplices are extremely dangerous.


Three heavily armed men helped the 46-year-old repeat offender break out of the prison in Réau, in the city's south-eastern suburbs, in a helicopter they had hijacked from Le Bourget airport.

The helicopter was flown by an instructor who had been waiting for a pupil and was forced to fly at gunpoint, according to police sources.

He was in a state of shock after being released by the hijackers, who ditched the helicopter 60km away in the north-east of the capital.

The escape came after an appeal court sentenced Faïd to 25 years for masterminding a botched armed robbery, which ended in the death of police officer Aurélie Fouquet, in May 2010.

He had already escaped from jail in 2013, blasting his way out of a prison in northern France using dynamite, briefly taking four guards hostage and holing up in a hotel on an industrial estate where he was captured six weeks later.

In 2017 he was sentenced to 10 years for that escape and 18 years for an attack on a cash-in-transit vehicle.

Inspired by Scarface

Faïd, who at one point convinced a parole board that he was going straight, has made a number of television appearances and coauthored two books about his delinquent youth and rise in the criminal world on the outskirts of Paris.

He has said that his life of crime was inspired by Hollywood films like Scarface and Heat.

There have been at least eight helicopter escapes from French jails since 1986.

One of them, in which burglar Michel Vaujour was rescued by his wife, Nadine, was the subject of a film, La Fille de l'air, starring Béatrice Dalle.

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