A convicted British paedophile was caught running through the Channel Tunnel after breaching conditions of his bail.
Ryan Murryland, 31, was caught in the undersea link on December 21, causing all trains to be stopped at a cost of some £45,000.
Murryland appeared in court in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, yesterday afternoon, claiming he had no memory of what happened and saying he was not guilty.
But CCTV images clearly showed Murryland, from Manchester, in the Channel Tunnel where he is stopped by French police.
Murryland told the court: “It’s not me in the pictures. I was arrested by the police in the street after arriving in a car.”
But magistrates refused to believe his claims after hearing that registered sex offenders were not allowed to leave the UK without permission from the police.
Murrayland was jailed in 2015 for sexual activity with a child and was on the run last year for breaching the conditions of his bail following his release from prison.
After his arrest in France by border police at Coquelles, Murrayland was held on remand, but his claims were ‘full of inconsistencies,’ according to a prosecuting report.
He had scaled four security fences and dodged 400 surveillance cameras before running in darkness through the tunnel.
Murrayland was found guilty of two offences – entering a railway without authorisation and refusing to comply with railway regulations – and received the maximum six month sentence.
Maxime Cottigny, his defence barrister, pleaded for his release, saying Murryland had “not understood why he was placed in police custody.”
At the time of his jailing in 2015, Detective Supt Angela Grey of Greater Manchester Police said: “If you have seen Murrayland or have any information about where he might be, please call us immediately. I would also urge him, if he sees this, to contact us.’
Eurotunnel, the Channel Tunnel operator, has warned that anyone trying to walk along the lines could be killed, with risk from both high-speed trains and potentially fatal electrical currents.
It is estimated that the disruption to traffic caused by the Myrrayland incident cost Eurotunnel some £45,000 in lost revenue.
The incident has raised serious questions about border policing following Britain’s departure from the EU on January 1.
Tony Smith, former head of UK Border Force, said: ‘The Channel Tunnel is a critical part of our national infrastructure.
As such the security of the tunnel and of those using it is of paramount importance to both the UK and French governments.
“It is important that both sides conduct an urgent review to determine how this incident was allowed to happen, so as to ensure that criminals and terrorists are denied any opportunity to gain access in future.”
Before Murrayland’s sentencing, MP Damian Collins said: ‘I’m glad that the trespasser was caught before a nasty accident could happen, although I understand not before causing considerable disruption and loss in revenue to Eurotunnel.
“This is a very rare incident, and I’d like to thank the British and French authorities for dealing with it so swiftly.”
The Channel Tunnel is composed of three tunnels each 31 miles long bored at an average 40m below the sea bed, linking Folkestone to Coquelles in Calais.
Shuttles, Eurostar and freight trains travel at up to 100mph along the Channel Tunnel line and pose an immense danger to anyone walking in the Tunnel.
A Sudanese migrant who walked the length of the Channel Tunnel from France in 2015 was eventually granted asylum in the UK a year later.
Abdul Haroun was initially charged with obstructing a railway under 19th-century legislation before also being held in custody.
But the 40-year-old was instead granted asylum, leading to Eurotunnel saying in a statement: “He not only caused significant disruption to Eurotunnel and to the many freight and passenger customers travelling at the time, he also put his own life and that of others at risk.”