Notorious thief flees French jail by helicopter

Redoine Faid

Redoine Faid

Notorious French criminal Redoine Faid poses prior to an interview with French all-news TV channel, LCI, as he was promoting his book, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, France, November 22, 2010.

This is the second time the career criminal has pulled off a daring jailbreak.

"It was a spectacular escape".

Faid and his accomplices escaped from the prison courtyard - which was unprotected by a net - without injuring anyone, French news website Europe 1 reports.

Faid, along with two accomplices, was convicted for the murder of the policewoman.

Two gunmen jumped from the helicopter to free Faid from the visitors' room where he was meeting one of his brothers before escaping in the helicopter, she said.

Redoine Faïd was being held in solitary confinement in Réau prison when the three men burst in on Sunday morning and extracted him, later dumping the helicopter and setting it alight before escaping in a auto, media reports said.

Faid, who was previously France's most wanted man, is no stranger to blockbuster-like escapes. Not long after the prison break, the helicopter was found abandoned in a field in Gonesse, a Paris suburb just northeast of the capital, photos of the scene showed. Faid is believed to have left by auto along with his accomplices.

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The hijacked pilot, a member of a flying club near Paris, was released unharmed, Belloubet said. Faid was talking with his brother at that time.

Faid, who has a cult following in the tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris where he grew up, has made several television appearances. He received an eight-year prison sentence in 2011 - interrupted by the 2013 breakout.

In his 2013 jailbreak, he briefly took four guards hostage with a pistol before escaping in a waiting getaway vehicle. He was recaptured six weeks later at a hotel in suburban Paris - but not before he briefly claimed the title of France's "public enemy number one", the Independent reported.

In the 1990s, he was co-leader of a gang engaged in jewel theft, armed robbery and extortion in the Paris area.

They then managed to whisk him away in a helicopter parked in a nearby school yard, according to French media.

Faid was freed in 2009 after serving 10 years in prison.

Faid is not the first prisoner to escape in a helicopter.

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