A fleeing suspect’s bid to escape Ilfracombe police almost ended in disaster after he tried swimming out to sea.

Ilfracombe lifeboats in attendance as police try and rescue a suspect who ran into the sea behind the Landmark. Picture: Sarah Cabot-MillerIlfracombe lifeboats in attendance as police try and rescue a suspect who ran into the sea behind the Landmark. Picture: Sarah Cabot-Miller

Officers from Ilfracombe's neighbourhood team was pursuing a man suspected of theft on Tuesday, July 30 when he entered the sea and tried to take refuge on some rocks, but got into difficulty.

Both Ilfracombe lifeboats were called out and stood by while those on shore attempted to save the man.

Using the shore-side life rings and rope, police officers, assisted by members of the public, were able to get him to shore.

Ilfracombe neighbourhood team leader Sergeant John Crew thanked the people who had stepped in to offer their help.

He said: "It was luck more than judgement that we got him out - a couple of minutes later and he could have been dead."

The man was taken to a waiting ambulance crew where he was given medical treatment.

Sgt Crew said the offences would be dealt with in the coming days.