A convicted sex offender admitted leaving the country on his brother’s passport after being charged with new offences.
Frank Burgon, 79, accepted travelling through Europe by train to Turkey where he had a yacht.
But he claimed it was only to sell the boat fearing he would lose it if he was put in prison.
Burgon denied conspiring with family members, who are also standing trial alongside him at Teesside Crown Court, in a bid to evade justice.
It is claimed Burgon’s partner Christine Officer, 63, helped him by sending him money and by dealing with more than £19,000 from the sale of the yacht.
Giving evidence in his defence, Burgon, a former fisherman, claimed he had been arrested falsely on two separate occasions in the weeks leading up to his disappearance.
He said he withdrew £5,000 to travel to Europe to sell the yacht Lady Calypso.
“I thought I was going to lose the yacht if I’m put in prison,” he said. “A lot of money would be gone. I was trying to sell it.”
Asked by Adrian Dent, defending, if he had told his partner of 36 years or his family of his plans, Burgon said: “No, they would probably stop me from going.”
“Were you in communication in any way shape or form with your family back home?” asked Mr Dent.
Burgon said: “No, I had no phone at the time.”
Mr Dent added: “Did anyone try to contact you that you were aware of?”
“Not that I was aware of,” Burgon said.
The trial heard Burgon sold the yacht for £19,000 to a Norwegian man who transferred the money into Officer’s bank account.
Burgon then spent a month in Malta before jetting to Spain.
He said he was trying to get a flight to Newcastle to come home but when none were available he visited his brother George in Gran Canaria.
He said his brother was annoyed to see him as he was supposed to be living at his bungalow in the UK on a tagged curfew.
Tamara Pawson, defending Officer, put it to Burgon the only time he spoke to her was when he was in Gran Canaria to ask for money to get home.
Burgon, who was out of the country from early March 2013 to the following January after being arrested by Spanish police, said: “I didn’t ask for any money. I had money.”
Burgon, formerly of Hartlepool now of Borough Road, Middlesbrough; George Burgon, 77, and niece Alison Connor, 52, both of the Old Bungalow, Field House Farm, Dalton Piercy; and Officer, of Bruntoft Road, Hartlepool, all deny conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The trial continues.