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June 2004


11 June 2004

Sara Svensson, a 27-year-old nanny in Uppsala, Sweden, received several SMS messages from God in which she was urged to commit murder. The messages were traced to Pentecostal pastor Helge Fossmo, who employed Svensson and was having an affair with her at the time. Fossmo later claimed the messages were meant just to provide religious guidance. The nanny confessed to following the messages' instructions and killing the pastor's wife as well as trying to murder the man who lived next door to him. Prosecutors claim that Fossmo, 32, wanted to marry the neighbour's wife.
The body of Fossmo's first wife, who supposedly hit her head on the tap after falling over in the bath, is being exhumed.

Michael Gunn, a 21-year-old student at the University of Kent, has admitted to using the copy-and-paste technique of essay writing throughout his three-year degree course. The day before his final examination, he was confronted about his use of lengthy extracts from online material without attribution. When told he would be leaving without a degree, he responded that he didn't realise that his activities constituted plagiarism. Gunn said he 'never dreamt it was a problem. ... If they had pulled me up with my first essay and warned me of the problems, it would be fair enough.' Therefore, the family are looking for a lawyer so Gunn can sue the university for negligence. Said Gunn's mother, Elaine, 'We just don't want this to happen to others'.

A mother in Rogers, Arkansas, said she was upset when her seven-year-old son came home with a water gun on the last day of school. He said his teacher gave him the fish-shaped water squirter. Assistant school superintendent Dr. Louise Standridge said the toys were a treat for the students, who had just completed their study of rainforest animals with a unit on fish. The mother, Karen Young, says she is upset because two of her brothers had been shot in domestic disputes, her uncle had used a gun to kill himself, and she had shot her ex-boyfriend by accident when she was hitting him with a gun.

In Miami, Florida, 43-year-old Brian Joseph Kelly gave a bomb to a friend who was visiting him. Detective Nelda Fonticiella said that the friend, after driving home with his family, showed the bomb to a relative, who realised what it was and rang emergency services. Later, officers found a five-gallon 'bucket of bombs' at Kelly's home. He was charged with various counts relating to possession of explosive devices.

The Boston Herald reports that a mildly retarded 13-year-old was apparently prostituted by another eighth-grade girl. Supposedly the developmentally disabled girl's best friend, her pimp charged as little as $5 for the sexual encounters and kept all of the money. As many as 20 boys participated in sex acts with the girl, who was told by the young madam that this was the only way to get boyfriends. The situation was revealed when two other eighth-grade girls reported to school officials that the young pimp was trying to recruit them as prostitutes.

A former judge in British Columbia is in trouble. David Ramsay frequently sat in judgement over under-age aboriginal prostitutes but used their services when he was not on the bench. Over a nine-year period, Ramsay, who is married, used his office to intimidate the girls and keep his actions from scrutiny, according to Justice Patrick Dohm, who handed down a seven-year jail sentence for Ramsay's 'utterly reprehensible' conduct. In one case, Ramsay paid a 12-year-old to simulate rough sex. When this went too far for her comfort, she ran from his car. He chased her down and warned her that no-one would believe her if she reported him. Also, he abandoned a naked teenager he had beaten, leaving her on a darkened highway.
Mary Clifford, a health worker at the Native Friendship Centre, said she filed a complaint with the RCMP six years ago when she saw Ramsay in a car with a young prostitute. Nothing came of the complaint.
Dohm said Ramsay treated the girls like discarded shoes. Ramsay's lawyer, Leo Doust, countered that his 'Jekyll-and-Hyde' client cannot be 'singled out as the only one who took advantage of these individuals'.

A 40-year-old Japanese man and the son of his common-law wife have been arrested for molesting and injuring two girls at a shopping centre. Seto's Tetsuji Kida and the younger man took an eight- and ten-year-old girl to a toilet and beat and molested them, according to Aicha Prefecture police. Kida admitted his guilt and explained that 'I wanted to target any small girl'.

The Denver Post reports that magazine reporter David Holthouse perhaps shared too much in a recent cover story. The 33-year-old Holthouse explained in the story that he had a hard time 'letting go' after a man raped him when he was a child. He described planning to kill the man and actually buying an illegal gun. A friend staked out the man's home. The story had a happy ending: Holthouse changed his mind when his parents learned of the assault. He met last month with the rapist, who apparently admitted to the crime and apologised. The statute of limitations on that crime has expired. Holthouse has been arrested on suspicion of felony stalking. He maintains that 'Any charges against me are essentially charges of thought crimes'.

Michael Hatfield, a 54-year-old man from Kansas City, Missouri, lost his car keys, which fell to the bottom of a lake. His solution was to use a garden hose as a snorkel and tie a nine-kilo boat anchor to his waist so he could reach the bottom. After the hose slipped from Hatfield's mouth, a spotter sensed trouble and used an emergency rope to pull him to the surface. Hatfield began breathing on his own after being rescued, and he refused medical treatment. He will try again to find his car keys, this time with a trained diver. Reflecting on his failure, he said that 'keys can really be replaced. At the time, I did not think about that. It was really an embarrassment.'

In Auburndale, Florida, 20-year-old Richard Melius racked up over a dozen harassing 'phone calls to his ex-girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child. It isn't clear what he wanted to achieve by this, but he apparently thought he'd have a better chance to get it if he were to talk to her in person. To this end, he stole the keys to his father's police cruiser late at night. When he saw the woman, Tabitha McKenzie, on the road, he turned on the car's flashing lights and pulled her over. She rang her family for help. When her step-father arrived, the younger Melius drove home, according to a sheriff's report. The charges against him include driving with a suspended licence and violation of probation, as well as stalking, grand theft auto, and impersonating a police officer.

Robert Pounds, 49, and Joseph Beard Jr., 45, were arrested on Monday after they tossed marijuana cigarettes out of their car. Remaining in the vehicle was a map, which investigators followed to a cornfield on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line. The field contained about 150 marijuana plants.

Michael Jorgenson, a 22-year-old worker at the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center, is accused of slipping the anti-anxiety drug Xanax into a co-worker's coffee because he felt she was 'too hyper'. When she arrived home after drinking the coffee, the woman apparently fell unconscious. She claims she needed medical attention and lost two weeks of work on account of what Jorgenson told other employees was a practical joke to calm her down.
Court papers say that Jorgenson defended himself by saying that 'At least she would have been at the hospital' if anything were to have gone wrong.

Cathy Crighton, a 46-year-old Florida veterinarian, pleaded guilty to stealing three show horses. Officers had been searching for one of the animals, a white-and-dark-grey gelding, when they found Crighton at a barn with a black-and-dark-grey gelding. Parts of the animal had been spray-painted black, which caused blisters near the $100,000 horse's nose. The other two horses were recovered as well. After two years on house arrest, during which she is not to own animals, Crighton will spend eight years on probation.

Charles Frink, a 43-year-old man from Bloomington, Indiana, drove through a woman's yard, then went into reverse. While it was crossing another neighbour's yard, the driver's door opened and Frink fell out. The van stopped as it ran over his leg. Neighbours moved the van off Frick, who a police report describes as smelling strongly of alcohol. A loaded handgun and additional ammunition were found in the car.
While Frick was in hospital to have the leg seen to, police asked him to take a blood-alcohol test so they could determine if his driver's licence should be revoked. Frick said he didn't care since 'I don't have a licence anyway'.

Veteran television cameraman Jeff Frolin, 45, died on the job in Omaha, Nebraska. He was filming a story for the evening news, about a dangerous intersection where two teenagers died last month. Crossing the busy intersection to collect a blank tape from his vehicle, Frolin was struck by a car and was killed. The driver who hit Frolin didn't realise she had hit a pedestrian until she looked in her rear-view mirror. Sheriff Tim Dunning said the woman was not ticketed. He explained, "Unfortunately he walked into the path of a vehicle. It's not a traffic engineering problem."

Noel Cariño ran for a seat in the House of Representatives of the Philippines in 2001. An initial count of the votes showed that he had lost the election. A recount showed that Cariño had 2,000 more votes. His opponent filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which ruled on Thursday in favour of Cariño. He was sworn in earlier today, the last day Congress was in session - and the last day of the three-year term. Cariño told reporters 'I'm glad that finally, the people's mandate was respected'.

29 June 2004

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Samuel McClain drove a golf cart along two miles of winding paths through Peachtree City, Georgia, ending his journey by crashing into a parked car. Michael Johnston, who had drunk six or seven beers prior to the ride, was also on the golf cart. He was giving directions. McClain's guide dog was the third member of the party on the golf cart.
Both men were charged with reckless conduct.

Edward Marriot told a jury at Derby Crown Court that girlfriend Elaine Martinez has 'the nicest personality you can get' when she's in a good mood. But he also said she went 'too far' after she accused him of injecting her with an unknown substance and seeing another woman. She whipped the 48-year-old former bricklayer with a belt, told him to drop his trousers, then poured paint stripper on his genitalia. After that, she allegedly accused him of bugging her mobile 'phone, then threw more paint stripper at him. Later, she rang emergency services to report that she had been injected with something. When Marriot was with her in hospital, he noticed that his genitals were bleeding, and a nurse urged him to speak to the police. He spent a week in hospital.
Marriot told the court that he didn't fight back because Martinez is larger than he is and 'you can't hit a woman'. He said he hadn't reported earlier assaults because he didn't want Martinez to get in trouble.

David Bowman, a 41-year-old man from Nashville, Tennessee, was charged with violating probation by smoking crack, charging $6,000 to his mother's credit card, and threatening to burn down her house after she reported him. In court, he told Judge Thomas A. Higgins that the crowded prison bus would be too much for him. He asked Higgins to drive him back to prison personally. The judge decided not to do so. He also added four months to Bowman's sentence. 'I think part of the problem is that Mr. Bowman doesn't do as much thinking as maybe you or I would like him to', Higgins said later.

Ichiro Shinchi, 54, broke into a teacher's home in Kagoshima, Japan, stole some women's underwear, then promptly fled when the teacher's wife saw him and screamed. Shinchi later realised that he had left his slippers behind, in the garden of the home. He went back to retrieve them early the next morning. He was spotted by a relative of the homeowner and quickly arrested. Shinchi told the police that he had already broken into the home more than 10 times.

In a public appearance at the state fairgrounds, Illinois radio personality Jim 'The Photographer' McGill was performing an on-air fireworks stunt he insists had gone without a hitch over 100 times. McGill said a bottle rocket 'exploded on the launching pad'. He needed surgery to repair his buttocks.

Over a one-month period, Shigefumi Murai, a 49-year-old teacher at Japan's Yongo Municipal Elementary School, wrote graffiti near a female student's home and in other prominent locations where she would see them. Police linked Murai to the graffiti when they saw him wandering around near his school with a black marker identical to the one used to write the messages, including 'I'm going to rape you' and 'we had sex that was paid for'. Murai, a 27-year veteran of the teaching profession, explained to the police that the girl 'wouldn't pay any attention to me' and that she didn't participate in the out-of-school trips he organised for students.

The Mainichi Shimbun reports that a Tokyo father asked a friend to sit a high school entrance exam for his daughter. The friend did well enough on the exam that the girl was offered a place at Katsushika Metropolitan High School. However, she kept going to work instead of showing up for classes. As many Japanese children attend only exams, a teacher didn't investigate the girl's absence from classes until after she didn't show up for the mid-term exam. The girl's mother greeted the teacher and explained that her daughter didn't know she'd been enrolled in high school. 'We were too late in dealing with the issue if we only realised something was wrong by the time the homeroom teacher hadn't met the student', said Principal Kazuo Ohira.

Rodger Hunter of Idaho Falls went to a local pub, Chic's, with his mother. After the two had an argument, the younger Hunter left the pub. He returned an hour later with his pet rattlesnake, over a metre long, which he is accused of pointing at his mother, Shiela, while it rattled away. A patron's brother captured the snake and placed it in his aquarium. Meanwhile, officers arrested Rodger. A judge will decide whether the feral snake will stay in its new home.

Lance E. Champion apparently parked just after Deputy Lt. Stan Hillis across the street from the county jail in McKinnville, Tennessee. Champion, 23, accused the officer of speeding. The conversation became heated, and in the end Champion was taken into custody on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and evading arrest. He rang his mother, Janice, whose 17-year-old son accompanied her to the area and decided it would be a good idea to slap the hand of a deputy who gestured for the pair to move away while Lance's car was being towed. Sheriff Jackie Matheny said that 'if you strike an officer, you're going to jail 100% of the time'. Janice may have thought she could change this. She ended up being arrested as well, on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Her husband, Hal, arrived after a church service. He was shot with a Taser and taken into custody on similar charges to his wife's.

In Fukuoka, Japan, a teacher grew upset with a Fukusho Municipal High School student who fell asleep in class after receiving multiple warnings earlier in the day not to do so. He apparently handed the boy a paper cutter and told him to write an apology 'with blood, not a pencil'. The teacher said he was surprised when he returned later to find that the student really had cut the tip of a finger and written a line in blood. He ordered the student to switch to using a pencil. The teacher, who is in his 40s, later reported the incident to the principal, reportedly saying 'I couldn't see any remorse [...] but I went too far'. In a meeting on Saturday, the principal said 'I want to issue instruction so this type of thing doesn't happen again'.

Portugal's Correio da Manha newspaper reports that a 28-year-old prisoner at a jail in Coimbra dug a two-metre-long tunnel beneath a cell in a bid for freedom from the facility. Prison spokesman Paolo Barbosa said the inmate made 'a mistake in his calculations'. The tunnel, found last week, would have needed 21 metres more length before emerging, 'but the tunnel was headed to the patio and not outside of the prison', said Barbosa.

Warwickshire's Katrina Grant, 36, was stabbed by her fiance for being nervous about her upcoming wedding. She received 12 stitches and was treated for a collapsed lung. A month after the attack, she went through with the wedding. She said people 'don't understand how I could marry Luke after what he did, but no one knows him like I do'.

A 13-year-old girl led five-year-old Sun Jizu to a Tokyo building and had him sit on the railing of a landing. She then pushed him off. He was cushioned by a tree as he fell and landed in the shrubbery beneath. The girl reported to a local businessman that a boy had fallen, and she went home. She explained to the police later that she had encountered the younger child at a video arcade and asked what he was doing there. When he said 'You always come here too. I'm going to tell your mother,' she decided she needed to silence him since she had been told not to visit the arcade.

Police in Beaverton, Oregon, say bank robber Knute Falk, 54, had everything he needed for success, including a gun, bandana, and bag for the loot. He didn't have a convenient getaway car, however. Since his car was several blocks away, he demanded that a customer in the Bank of America branch give him a set of car keys. Falk promised to leave the car keys under the front seat for the customer, but he didn't get that far. When he couldn't figure out which key was for the car door, he went back into the bank to ask. He was arrested a few minutes after he finally drove off, according to The Oregonian.

Newspapers in Trinidad report that Port of Spain's Randolph Hall, 89, has been in ill health for some time and unable to climb the stairs to his eighth-floor apartment. This was annoying to him, as the lifts in the government-owned building were also out of order - for at least eight years. Hall finally left his apartment last week when a lift was fixed. He was accompanied by Housing Minister Keith Rowley. Hall said he was thankful.

Wellington, New Zealand, man Roger Daniel was clocked at only a little over twice the speed limit, so he was able to be pulled over by a police officer in Whangarei. Daniel, 37, offered the explanation that he had just wanted to air dry his car. He said, 'I have a bad back and just thought I would do that to dry the car instead of having to chamois it dry'. He was still fined $191 and had his driving licence suspended for six months.

A man from Canada's eastern New Brunswick province drove to Toronto with a shotgun, bolt-action rifle, another gun, a machete, and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition. Police Constable Kristine Bacharach said the man 'told investigating officers that he was in Toronto intending to shoot at people'. According to the Toronto Star, the man, in his 40s, had encountered a dog in a Toronto park and 'decided that if there was such a nice dog in the area, the people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan', according to Detective Nick Ashley. After that decision, the man drove around the area until he found a police officer and turned himself in.

Hiroshi Sasaki, 27, is a member of a fire brigade in Hino, Japan. He was arrested on Saturday for breaking into a warehouse and setting it on fire. He has also admitted involvement in about 20 other cases of arson that have occurred since October. Local police suspected him because for some time he had been arriving at the scene of a fire before being ordered to do so. His explanation to police was, 'I was taking out my frustrations'.

Donald Thompson, a 57-year-old judge in Creek County, Oklahoma, explained that the penis pump was a 'gag gift' from a friend. That explanation probably didn't satisfy the police officer who saw the judge pumping a tube between his legs in court or the other witnesses who claim they heard 'whoosing noises'. Court clerk Lisa Foster said Thompson's fumbling beneath his robes meant that she saw his penis at least 20 times. The district attorney wants Thompson sacked for 'moral turpitude'.

An Erie, Pennsylvania, man explained that he soiled his underwear when he was ill and got rid of them by tossing them into the city's largest reservoir in a black bag. When an Erie Water Works employee saw the bag, the bomb squad and hazmat team were sent out to investigate. The reservoir was shut down. It was several hours before the bag and its contents were fully tested. Police tracked down culprit Troy Musil, 18, whose reward for climbing over two barbed-wire-topped fences to ditch the underwear was the appearance of his name in the international press in addition to either a $500 fine or 10 months of volunteer work for the agencies that responded to the call

A worker at a sporting goods shop in Johnson City, New York, wanted to kill a spider. Joseph Freer, 23, covered the spider with a flammable liquid and set light to it. It isn't clear whether the spider died, but the merchandise stored nearby didn't fare too well. Smoke filled the Oakdale Mall, where the shop is located, forcing an evacuation and requiring the attention of firefighters. Freer was charged with fourth-degree arson.

Finally, Martin Williams, 60, had an armed gang steal cocaine worth an estimated 4.5 million pounds from his drug dealer son, Shane. The father told three underworld figures the location of his son's Sanderstead home and that 76 kilos of cocaine were waiting there. Martin, Shane, Shane's friend, and the three armed robbers were all arrested by police officers, who were already watching the house. Shane and Smith were jailed for 20 years for conspiracy to supply cocaine, and Martin too was jailed for 20 years.


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