anna's archive anna's archive anna's archive

November 2002

1 November 2002

The Buffalo News reports on Julie Oursler, 28, who, along with her husband, were involved in a physical altercation at a Halloween party at a bowling alley. Deputy David Makowski judged her intoxicated and 'unable to drive her car', so he drove her to her mother's house. When Oursler's mother saw her leave the house on foot, she followed her by car but couldn't persuade Oursler to get in. The mother called the Grand Island Fire Company to report that Oursler was walking to the sheriff's substation to look for her husband, who she thought had been arrested following the altercation earlier.
About five minutes later, Oursler, wearing a black Halloween costume and walking on an unlit road, was struck by Robert Brennan's pickup truck. Brennan, who lived 60 yards away, rang 911 to report the incident, then went back outside - just in time to see Makowski's police cruiser run over Oursler. 'We have not yet determined which accident caused her death', said Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan.

In a report from Canada, the Halifax Daily News reports that Teri-Lynn Tibbo has brought suit against St. Martha's Regional Hospital and two doctors after her hysterectomy in May 2000 involved complications. With a swollen belly that 'was rotten - I could smell it' and caused her incessant pain, she says, she kept seeking answers at the hospital. Her belly was reopened nine times to drain the fluid, which she says took scarcely an hour to leak out of the wound and through a large dressing and large pad. At the end of August, an x-ray revealed what was later determined to be a 50-by-40-centimetre surgical sponge and removed.
The doctors' statement says that if Tibbo suffered, it was caused by her medical condition 'and by her own actions'.

When Armando Chapal Ramirez, 21, disappeared, his father apparently took a photograph of him to the Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne, California, and was told the hospital hadn't seen him. At about the same time, a young man was found wandering in the street, high on cocaine, and was admitted to the intensive care unit, where he died of kidney and liver failure. At about this time, his attending physician went on maternity leave. When she returned, she found that his body hadn't left the hospital morgue after hospital officials failed to identify it. Ramirez's 333-day-old decomposing remains were sent to the coroner's office and identified. His surname was tattooed on the back of his neck, the name of his gang was tattooed on his back, and his son's mother's name was tattooed on his right leg.

The Courier Times reports that Jabari Wallace used phony documents to convince car dealerships that he was a car-owner who had lost his keys. He then sold the cars on the streets of Philadelphia, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Gambardella. Wallace was arrested in June after the police recovered a van he had stolen in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Officers found a Blockbuster Video receipt in the van. Bearing Wallace's name and address, the receipt was for a rental of Grand Theft Auto 3.
A jury found Wallace, 24, guilty of theft and conspiracy, sentencing him to 3.5 to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay $20,000 in restitution - less than the average sticker price of the cars he stole. Wallace had been arrested for a similar operation in 2000. He told the judge 'people who I thought were my friends got me involved in this'.

The Halifax Herald reports on a King's County car thief who was spotted in the stolen vehicle by the daughter of its owner. The thief abandoned the car, hid in the woods, and promptly reemerged when he realised that the province's police dogs - participating in training exercises nearby - were converging on the site. 'He smartened up right quick when he heard the dogs barking', according to Constable Ken Fraser, of the Kentville police. The 16-year-old suspect explained that he had seen too many movies to mess around with police dogs.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, a man with cocaine in his pickup and an outstanding warrant for a hit-and-run accident decided to go the wrong way on a one-way street. He then led police on a chase that moved as slowly as 32 km/h and involved the 12-year-old passenger in the pickup getting out at an intersection. The chase ended when he parked in the Brown County Jail car park, had a cigarette, then exited the truck and lay on the ground to be handcuffed. He allegedly told the officers that he drove there since he knew he was drunk and would end up there anyway.

Ananova reports that Roberto Lifsitz of Buenos Aires was getting money out of his safety deposit box at Banco Nación's vault when the lights went out. Lifsitz said he cried for help but heard no reply. Then the vault's doors closed. It was Friday, so Lifsitz was to spend 66 hours in the vault, where he ate his pack of biscuits and urinated in plastic bags that he kept in case he became thirsty. Lifsitz, who is unemployed, said he will not sue the bank.

John Matson, 55, was fatally shot by one of the men butchering hogs on the Arvid Matson farm near Frazee, Minnesota. In the process of dying, a hog had fallen backward but then jumped forward, knocking down the man holding the .22-calibre rifle. The rifle discharged on impact, leaving Matson with injuries causing his death later at Fargo's MaritCare Hospital. The shooting was ruled accidental.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports that a two-year-old boy was sitting on his bed while his 21-year-old mother and his aunt argued about how one should discipline children. The boy's 24-year-old aunt decided to fetch a handgun. She then shot the boy in the head. The aunt fled. The child required surgery. New Orleans Police Department spokesman Sergeant Paul Accardo said it is unclear if the shooting was intentional. The names of the child, aunt, and mother were not released.

The Arizona Republic reports that a bloodied Margarita Rojas, 26, brought her daughter to Thunderbird Samaritan Medical Center with a partially severed finger. Rojas claimed the 15-month-old cut her finger on a kitchen drain while bathing in the sink. She later admitted to biting the child's ring finger, according to police. Sergeant Randy Force said officers believe Rojas had been abusing her for three months. The girl weighed eight pounds rather than the 17-24 pounds typical for a girl her age, and Force stated that 'the mom said she believed if she continued to withhold food that by next week, Stella would have died'.
Rojas's other three children have been removed from the home. Child Protective Service had received earlier reports of her neglect and 'failure to get aid for children'.

The Studio East club in Green Bay, Wisconsin, provided the backdrop for a brawl after the bartender refused a drunken 25-year-old customer another drink. When the customer disobeyed the order to leave the premises, the bartender's boyfriend, Chad Harvey, allegedly ended up punching the inebriated customer. At this point, the customer bit a large chunk out of Harvey's nose. 'The officers wrote in their details that it was a 2″ x 2″ chunk off the right side [...] right down to the [septum]', said Lieutenant Bill Galvin. The alleged perpetrator is to be charged with mayhem and disorderly conduct. Harvey too received a citation for disorderly conduct.

A 15-year-old student at Boston's Grover Cleveland Middle School made disparaging remarks about the coat worn by a girl outside the school building. The girl, also 15, apparently said he would regret it. Boston police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said that 'she did come back with three teenage boys, two of whom pulled out knives'. The coat insulter, who was waiting for a bus, tried to flee but was stabbed under the arm and was taken to Boston Medical Center. Burns said two teenagers, including the girl, have been arrested in connection with the stabbing and more arrests are likely.

In Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a 17-year-old student tried to poison his science teacher, Julie Firmstone, with a chemical or chemical mixture he placed in the water reservoir of her coffee maker at school. Police said Firmstone decided not to drink the coffee when she noticed that the water had turned pink. The teen allegedly confessed to an assistant principal, police have filed charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person. Additional charges accumulated when officers apparently found marijuana pipes in the student's car after the incident.

Chatanooga, Tennessee, police reports indicate that Rudy Raines and William King stopped at the Fast Food and Fuel convenience store to dry out two sackfuls of marijuana in the microwave oven there. Although a patrol car was parked outside, Raines went inside and began to dry out the pot, whose smell soon filled the store. Officer Tetzel Tillery said that, when Raines removed the sack and 'Officer Ashley went up to him and asked what he was doing, [...] he admitted that he was trying to dry out the marijuana'. Ashley saw more marijuana in the car (for about a pound in total); King, on being awakened, said he didn't know anything about it. Raines told Ashley he and King had been headed to a drug rehab clinic.

Florida's St. Petersburg Times reports that Barry Colbert had a bad day in the Land-O-Lakes County Jail on Sunday. In jail to await trial on charges of beating his girlfriend, Jacki Clever, he used the phone to ask a friend to convince a neighbour couple to bury Clever's dog, which he had killed two days earlier with a hammer. Clever meanwhile had asked authorities to help locate her dog, which neighbours later found with severe head wounds.
Earlier in the year, Colbert said he let his girlfriend's seven-year-old son drive his car - by propping himself up in the seat with inline skates. When the boy got into an accident, Colbert admitted he had been drinking. Less than a week later, the boy and Colbert's three-year-old son were removed from the household after what Colbert told The Times was a tour of the house in which he opened a cupboard to show officers rice and beans but revealed a bong instead.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on Kent Coulson, who wrote a letter to his girlfriend in which he expressed optimism about his upcoming sentencing for manufacturing methamphetamines. He also explained that 'I have to write a suck-up letter to the Honorable [deleted] and it should all be great for me'. This letter, written in Wasatch County Jail, was mistakenly placed in the envelope addressed to the judge, it seems. Coulson's defence attorney suggested in a letter to the court that another inmate might have been trying to play a prank on Coulson, whose file now includes the letter.

5 November 2002

A volunteer firefighter left the Sullivan, Maine, firehouse after throwing a smouldering cigarette in the kitchen's rubbish bin, said Fire Chief Joseph Fountain. The building was severely damaged, but men holding a meeting across the street broke windows and drove the fire trucks to safety. After the blaze was put out by 60 firefighters from seven towns, Fountain announced that there will be no more smoking in the firehouse. While smoking is prohibited in all of Maine's public buildings, 'we never had no problem and no one in town ever complained'. No-one was to be punished since the incident was an 'accident'.

When a Columbus, Ohio, police officer entered an apartment in response to a burglar alarm, he saw guns, drugs, and money lying in plain sight. Before the apartment's residents returned home later in the day, officers had found at least three guns and 150 pounds of marijuana. Andrianna Sampson, 20, and Anthony Laird, 25, face felony drug possession charges.

The Boston Herald reports that a Wareham woman has been questioned in relation to her alleged stabbing of her live-in boyfriend in front of her three children. The stabbing was the finale to a fight over Halloween candy. The woman, whose name was not released, drove the victim from her trailer to hospital after the stabbing, which she claims was in self-defence.

Virginia's Frederick G. Habeeb bought all available copies of the Georgetown Record when the paper reported on the arrest of his 19-year-old son, Phillip George Habeeb, on charges related to drugs and stolen property. When asked why he bought all local outlets' papers within half an hour of their opening, Habeeb said 'I can't explain myself. I love to read. The reporting's great.' He did express regret for depriving locals of news on an accident affecting a popular honours student.

The Canadian Press reports that Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, resident Rosaire Roy pleaded guilty to hiring someone to fulfil his sexual fantasy. Tracy Bannab told police that Roy offered to pay her if she entered his store with a pellet gun and ordered him and a female acquaintance to undress and assume a sexual position, whereupon she was to tie them together and leave with the money from the till. Bannab, who followed through with the plan, was not charged because, Crown Prosecutor John Syrnick said, she didn't realise Roy's female acquaintance wasn't in on the plan. Bannab did tell police that she had tried to calm the woman, who freed herself and Roy and called the police.

In July, Jodi Lynn Henry, 38, was found not guilty of attempted murder for putting prescription tranquilisers in her two daughters' ice cream. The Phoenix, Arizona, woman is now suing mental health care provider ValueOptions, Jewish Family Services, and a nurse practitioner, saying they caused her to enter the drugged haze in which she committed the act. After Henry's overdose, which involved 15 medications, she told police that the drugs would put her and her daughters to sleep and they would wake in heaven.

After a bank robbery in Charlotte, North Carolina, some of the bank's employees were eating dinner near the bank, at Midtown Sundries, when they saw a familiar face inside. They rang the police, who have taken the suspect into custody. The FBI has not yet released his name, according to WSOC-TV Eyewitness News.

Chicago area residents were treated to footage of William Ligue, Jr, and his 15-year-old son interrupting a baseball game at Comiskey Park to cut and bruise Kansas City Royals coach Tom Gamboa, 54, who was left with hearing loss. Players converged on the shirtless pair. Ligue, who was at the game that night as the chaperone of his 13-year-old nephew's birthday party, said he thought the coach made an obscene gesture and he was upset because children shouldn't have to see such things.
Ligue had turned to drugs and alcohol when his daughter was born with birth defects and died earlier this year. He 'had to let anger out' and 'an inner demon escaped' on account of the alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, Valium, and two other drugs in his system. He hopes to get out of prison soon so he can help raise his two-year-old son.

9 November 2002

Reuters reports on ARO Campulung, a debt-ridden Romanian car factory. Ion Cotescu, trade union leader at the plant, told ProTv that 'our feasibility study shows that if 1,000 workers donate their sperm for several months, we can get enough funds to pay part of the plant's [around $20 million] debts'. The sperm donation scheme came in response to a fertility clinic offering the equivalent of $50 per visit but, Cotescu told Reuters, also serves as a protest against the government's privatisation authority, which failed to find a strategic investor for the factory. He said that 'they always told us to come up with a solution [so] I hope [they] will like it'.

In Grand Island, Nebraska, two 15-year-olds decided to vandalise the lawns of schoolmates' families. The teenage boys used a parent's pickup truck to zigzag through seven lawns. Police said the side of the vehicle boasted the name of the parent's company. 'It makes it a little easier to solve the crime when they do that', said Captain Jim Castleberry of the Hall County sheriff's office.

Aftenposten Nettutgaven reports on Johnny Magne Overgaard, of Frogner, Sorum, Norway, who was run over by the taxi that had just dropped him off at home, where he was found at the side of the street by passers-by. Overgaard, 43, died later in hospital of massive head injuries. Police tracked down the driver thanks to Overgaard having paid the fare with a bank card. After finding out which taai registered the charge, they brought the driver in for questioning and charged him later in the day.

Luciana Buonocore, 28, of Gragnano, Italy, was born a male, but his birth certificate and name indicate otherwise. The priest who baptized him, his teachers, and those who rejected his application to join the army applied the letter of the law to him. He met with delays and other difficulties when he went to court seven years ago to try to become 'Luciano, male' officially. More recently, he ran afoul of Italy's ban on same-sex unions and was not allowed to marry his fiancee. After that, he appealed to have his sexual identity changed under Italy's sex-change law. He simply had to prove to be a man. The court report said the clinical examination left 'no doubt about the fact that the inspected was of the masculine sex from birth'. 'It was a trick', Buonocore said, 'but it was an open trick'.

New York's Buffalo News reports on Sherwin London, a Trinidad native who was charged with trying to sell heroin to undercover agents at an Evans motel. The substance that London, 32, tried to sell turned out to be six pounds of TNT, which he had earlier offered an informer for $150,000. Assistant US Attorney Joel L. Violanti said: 'Laboratory tests show this is a very pure, very potent, and very dangerous form of TNT. It was found in a powdered form, which is rarely seen [...] at this point, we're still trying to determine whether [London, who denies all the allegations] actually knew it was TNT.'

A 13-year-old Michigan girl met a 16-year-old boy online last year. The boy, Brian Newman, came to live with the girl's family for extended periods. However, the boy was not really a boy; one Valerie A. Charles had invented the persona of Newman and has now been charged with criminal sexual misconduct, among other things. The ruse was uncovered when Charles's grandmother tracked her down and found her living with the 15-year-old's family. Sheriff Stan Burchardt said the victim's family indicated that they had never realized Charles, age 23, was a woman. She later violated a protective order to meet the teenager, who is now 15, and is now in jail.

The Seattle Times reported on a standoff in which a SWAT team stormed a house after several barrages of tear gas. Police had been called to the house at about 7:30am, after a man claimed that he heard gunshots being fired inside. Three people left the house when officers arrived but couldn't or wouldn't indicate if anyone remained inside. Spokesman Duane Fish said the team saw the door open slightly and the window blinds move a while later. No-one was found when the team finally raided the house at the end of the five-hour standoff - that is, except for a dog, which was unharmed.

The New York Post tells us of Drayton Chancellor, 43, who was recently cleared of robbery charges when 'discrepancies' were found in the case, is in the news again. He has now been charged with raping his girlfriend's daughter, age nine. The girlfriend's mother found letters in which the girl spoke of how much she loved Chancellor and enjoyed having sex with him. The child referred to the married Chancellor as her 'Daddy'. When her mother took her to Long Island College Hospital to be examined, she was determined to be 16 weeks pregnant.
Chancellor allegedly told police 'I'm going to have the same lawyer. He'll get me off the same way as the other one.'

Roger Chimney, 34, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, struck a convenience store owner with a spice jar and allegedly chased him out of the shop with an axe. Chimney escaped with about $100 from the till and went on to rob another store later in the day. When police arrived at the first of the robbery scenes, they found a Bible on the floor. It had Chimney's name inscribed in it. In his written confession to the robberies, he blamed a 'misunderstanding'. After pleading guilty before Judge Richard Damiani, he asked that his Bible be returned.

When Pennsylvania's Michsella Babcock received her first electric bill in her new apartment - for $510 - she contacted her power company to question the charges and then found a wire running from her circuit breaker box to the apartment of neighbours John J. Stemple, 24, and Jennifer L. Gilligan, 20. Erie authorities discovered that the couple, who had no electricity of their own, were using Babcock's electricity for all their appliances, including heat lamps for their marijuana plants. The pair are now in jail.

A 15-year-old Nova Scotia boy has been sentenced to six months at a juvenile detention centre for derailing a Via Rail passenger train near Truro last year, injuring 23 people and causing over CN$1 million in damage. The judge said the boy, who has a severe learning disability, will never understand the trauma he caused unless jailed. The boy, 13 at the time of the incident, had removed a lock on a train switch, causing the train to crash into a feed store. The teenager later explained that he had wanted the lock for a fort he and his brothers were building. His defence lawyer, Anne Malick, said he had made a stupid mistake.

Laronda C. Robinson of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested for trying to cash a payroll check drawn on the account of the nonexistent Johnson Janitorial Service. The 22-year-old woman is accused of being part of an organised group. She claims a woman offered to pay her $175 for each fake cheque she cashed. She was caught because a bank clerk noticed that the bank name on the cheque was 'Frist Unoin'. Robinson was caught as she headed toward a getaway vehicle. Investigation is ongoing on another local case with a bogus cheque featuring 'Frist Unoin'.

Colorado's Lea Dowler wrote to Platte Valley Medical Center and Boulder County, begging officials to give her step-son Joseph and his pregnant wife Audra parenting classes so that the baby could be 'protected and raised healthy and happy. We want to be a part of his life - his long, healthy life'. The pleas went unheeded, and Tanner Dowler died at 18 weeks of age after his parents took him to hospital with evidence of broken arms, legs, and ribs. His burned feet had been wrapped in toilet paper. Police said Audra, 19, quoted Joseph as saying 'I think I broke our son' and that she and her hsuband had, among other things, covered Tanner's face with pillows because he cried loudly.
State child protection officials said a letter like Lea's wouldn't prompt action because it didn't provide an address for Joseph and Audra (they lived in their car) or 'an indication the child would be harmed'.

14 November 2002

A few days after Edward Rivera stole a pillowcase full of Halloween candy from a 10-year-old trick-or-treater last Halloween, the boy and his father, Ervin McKinney spotted Rivera at the local high school and contacted police. Judge Edward Zaleski sentenced the Lorain, Ohio, 19-year-old to handing out candy for three hours while wearing a sign reading 'I'm sorry. I will not steal from children'. Rivera, who could have served up to five years in prison for his actions, carried out his sentence in front of a local hospital and wore a mask.

Santa Fe, Texas man Eugene Robbins faces felony charges for chaining his daughter's ankles together before taking her to school. Robbins, 33, said school officials told him last month that his 12-year-old daughter had skipped all but 10 days of school this year. Shortly thereafter, a judge told Robbins and his wife they had to see that the girl attended school or they would face criminal charages. Robbins said: 'I can't stay with her all day [...] I didn't know what else to do.' Robbins, who could spend two to 10 years in prison if convicted of child injury and endangerment, added: 'Hell, I'm going to go to jail over this. The least she could do is go to school.'

The Chicago Tribune reports on 85-year-old Ernest Heyneman, ordered by a Ventura County court to hand over his library card, not get a new one, and not use the local libraries. Judge Kevin J. McGee said Heyneman's theft of over 3,500 books and tapes from local libraries over a four-year period is "truly an aberration". Authorities reported that Heyneman would check out materials, remove the security strips before returning them to the library, then remove them from the library later. He was caught after a Thousand Oaks librarian noticed that there were far fewer medical books and that Heyneman had been checking out medical books.

Campus police at West Virginia's Shepherd College told 49-year-old Barbara Marie Harmison that she couldn't preach on college grounds without permission. Later in the day, the campus police received another call concerning the woman, this one reporting that she was "reading from the Bible and she was totally nude" on the steps to a building into which students were going for classes, according to Patrolman R.A. Houchins. Police asked her to put on her clothes, which were piled beside her, after which she was taken to jail to await charges of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and disturbance of school.

Mark Vaughn of Forth Worth, Texas, tried to help his mother-in-law, who had locked her keys in her house, by sliding down her chimney to retrieve her keys. She knew the idea was not a good one, but Vaughn, 35, figured this out only when he became stuck in the fireplace. After his mother-in-law called 911 and firefighters spent over an hour creating a hole in the chimney to free him, he agreed that the idea had been 'Stuuuuuupid!', and afterward he was heard to tell his angry mother-in-law to 'just be cool about it!'.

A St. Petersburg, Florida, stands accused of stabbing his girlfriend's son during an argument. Police had arrived shortly after William Peppler, 70, apparently threatened to kill Jeffrey Rolfe, 49, over the way he had trimmed some shrubbery. Rolfe was stabbed in the chest shortly after that, said police spokesman Rick Stelljes. Rolfes was pronounced dead within minutes of the stabbing.

Reuters reports on a German robber described by Bild newspaper as 'Germany's dumbest criminal'. He entered a bank in Giessen while wearing a burlap bag over his head. Since he hadn't cut eye holes in the sack, he ran into a few customers on his way to the counter, where he produced a plastic knife and toy gun. He then lifted the front of the sack to demand money from the teller, who said the safe couldn't be opened. The robber fled, but he was quickly identified from the security camera footage of his face and was arrested a day later. Police spokesman Gerald Frost called him 'a real amateur'.

Augusta, Georgia, Wal-Mart employees received four bomb threats in the space of a week. Three resulted in evacuations. The fourth was traced to an 11-year-old boy. Richmond County Sheriff's Major Ken Autry said the child might have been upset that his mother, a Wal-Mart employee, had been moved to the night shift. While authorities reported the boy to juvenile authorities, he is too young to be charged with a crime. Regarding his age, Wal-Mart spokesman Ian DeZalia said: 'It's sad.'

England's York Evening Press reported on Saturday that a man was caught driving at 148 km/h and gave a rather atypical excuse. He was late for a business meeting in York on account of trusting his in-car computer. The navigation system guided him to York - but a much smaller York - a village near Manchester, on the opposite side of the country. He said he had been 'very nervous' when appraoching Manchester but, on the other hand, was reassured by the computer that he was '10 miles [16 km] from York'. His lawyer said the man 'thought "it must be right; it's a computer"'. He has been banned from driving for six months and fined 300 UKP plus costs.

Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, probation officer William Knox required stitches around his eye after 17-year-old Henry Williams beat him just after the teenager's hearing at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center (it had been decided therein that Williams would face charges of narcotics possession). Police said the teenager's mother, Kimberly, 37, kept screaming: 'Kill him! Get him! He deserves this!' during the attack, which was ended by the centre's guards. She has been charged with criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault, retaliation against a prosecutor or judicial officer, disorderly conduct, and corruption of minors.

The AP reports on the death of Mississippi two-month-old Alfred Griffin, Jr, via multiple skull fractures. The boy's father, 22-year-old Alfred, Sr, said that he's found the baby unconscious with bite marks on his jaw and scratches on his face. Police spokesman Robert Graham said authorities suspect the baby's four-year-old sister. According to Alfred, Sr, the girl may have been jealous of the baby and often gave him nasty looks when he spent time with the infant. The state Department of Human Services has taken custody of the four remaining Griffin children. Hinds County District Attorney Faye Peterson said it is too early to know whether any criminal charges, such as neglect, will be filed.

23 November 2002

Reuters reports on the eight-game suspension of an amateur Dutch football player whom a referee sent off during a match in Hengelo in October. Joris Gieske, a spokesman for the KNVB Dutch football association said: 'First the player got a yellow card. Then he made remarks to the referee. The second yellow was also for talking (to the referee) and then the player got angry.' On being sent off, he 'took the referee by the head and kissed him on the mouth', said Gieske.

It seems Scottish radio buff Blair MacKay enjoyed listening in on telephone conversations with a radio scanner. But he didn't like what he heard when, while eavesdropping on his great-aunt, Dorothy Pickett, she told her friend to watch what she said because MacKay listens in on telephone conversations. Shortly after Pickett hung up, Blair called her and said: 'That's not true. I don't listen in to phone conversations'. After hearing other witnesses report on MacKay's allusions to their telephone conversations, Dingwall Sheriff Allan Finlayson fined him UKP 400 and warned him not to repeat the behaviour. He had been convicted in 1995 for bugging his house so as to listen to his partner's communication.

Maine's Poughkeepsie Journal reports on two Ulster County teenagers who allegedly smashed up a police crusier at a repair shop in January, leaving faeces in the vehicle and causing $5000 worth of damage. They took pictures of themselves in the act, and 'it seems there was a mix-up in the processing lab', New Paltz Detective David Dugatkin said. Someone else received the photos and took them to the police. Andre Fernandez and Joseph Ruggiero, both 19, were taken to jail in the cruiser, since repaired, and were charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a felony. Dugatkin said the pair admitted they were drunk at the time of the incident and 'didn't have a specific reason'.

A gang of thieves in Jersey Marine, South Wales, stole television sets, VCRs, and DVD players from a warehouse - where goods returned under warrantee were being stored before being returned to the manufacturer. As they have not yet been caught, Detective Inspector Paul Stephens warned people not to take the law into their own hands if they buy a 'new' telly that doesn't quite work.

The Scotsman reports that bus driver Edward O'Donnell, 34, refused to open the door of his bus until a pair of teenaged girls showed him their breasts. O'Donnell, who said it was the least the girls could do in return for the favour of being dropped off outside his normal route, claimed that the two had been leaning over and distracting him while he was driving. The elder of the girls, 16, obeyed. Another witness, 20, reported that a similar thing had happened to her that same night. O'Donnell was sentenced at Haddington Sheriff Court to two years in prison.

Police said New Jersey's Emmanuel Nieves, 23, used a knife to slash the face, ear, and cheek of Erik Saporito, 21, as their argument about hairy buttocks escalated, in front of several witnesses. Police said the two men are friends. Nieves has been charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, weapons offences, and criminal mischief. He is now in the Hackettstown County Jail.

Reuters reports on a Phnom Penh woman who hit her husband several times in the groin with the blunt end of an axe. He died. Chhoeun Sovann, 35, was then able to run off with her son-in-law, with whom she had fallen in love, said presiding judge Sim Samoeu six years after the crime. She went on to say: 'It is totally unacceptable in Cambodia that a wife should kill her husband by smashing his genitals. After hours of deliberation, I decided to punish her with 15 years in jail.' The verdict was issued in absentia.

South Carolina's Sun News reports on a five-car collision on S.C. 90 that was caused by a woman changing clothes while driving to work. The woman, Marie Butler, 20, was taken to hospital, as were two of the other drivers who were involved, state troopers said. Butler had driven off the shoulder of the road and crossed the centre line when she overcompensated to get back on the road, according to Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Tony Love.

The Mainichi Shimbun reports on Gunma Prefecture auto mechanic Tadaaki Takahasi, who was arrested for keeping his girlfriend captive in his apartment for two years. The 32-year-old man apparently set up video cameras in all three rooms of the apartment and put handcuffs on the 31-year-old woman's ankles whenever he left. At lunchtime, he would return from work to eat with her and then restrain her again. Police quoted him as saying: 'I was worried that she might have an affair.' Takahashi was arrested when the emaciated and bruised woman escaped with her two children and sought a neighbour's help.

In a report from Bridgeport, Connecticut, Jimmie Kave, 75, was prompted by his lawyer to apologise in court for impregnating a 10-year-old girl who met him through an 'Adopt-a-Godfather' programme. Kave, who claimed the girl seduced him and would give him sex in exchange for gifts, has a sexual assault record going back to 1947, but of his crime he asked this in a statement: 'God has forgiven me, why can't you?'
Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani said that 'you insult the intelligence of the court and everyone in the courtroom when you say your door is always open to the young victim', who gave birth in May. Both the baby and her mother are in the custody of the state.

Reuters reports that two German postal workers, ages 20 and 28, stole telephone equipment from the post and then tried to sell it to a dealer in second-hand goods in Nuremberg. The dealer recognised the package as one he had posted that morning, so he called the police, according to police spokesman Peter Schnellinger. Police searched the thieves' apartment and discovered missing mail that included laptop computers, video cameras, and fax equipment with a total worth of EUR 10,000.

Johannesburg, South Africa, mechanic Willem Koen, designed a shotgun booby trap to go off if anyone tried to break into his shop. Of Koen, 78, and employee Nketu Motsei police spokesman Rosa Benade said: 'These two had standing arrangements that they switch on and off this shotgun when they came into and left work. It seems this employee forgot to switch off the shotgun on the day in question.' Koen is being charged with murder.

Enfield, Connecticut, woman Jay Olechny, 82, was upset that her sister Stasia Phillips had yet again placed plastic flowers on her parents' tombstone. She is accused of trying to run over Phillips, who was on her way out of church. Olechny claims that her niece filed a bogus complaint after she had merely called her sister over to her car and yelled at her about the flowers. She claims this was part of Phillips's plot to keep her out of the cemetery by getting her driver's licence revoked.
A third sibling, Joseph, has attempted to keep plastic flowers off the tombstone by afixing to the marker 'Do not place anything on this stone' notes written on duct tape. Of his sister Jay he said that 'she gets a little rambunctious sometimes, but I don't think she'd run anyone over'.

Nebraska's Norfolk Daily News reports on a 30-year-old man who was convicted of stealing a summer sausage from a grocery store. In Madison County Court, Judge Donna taylor was surprised to see that both sides had, as part of their plea agreement, agreed on restitution in the amount of $3,527.49. The courtroom burst into laughter, but it turns out that the amount was to pay for the man's hospital bill. He had jumped into the flood control works by the store as he tried to get away, and he broke both his kneecaps. The summer sausage fared better; the defence attorney reported that it was in suitable condition for sale when recovered.

Of three dead bodies found in a Lehigh Acres, Florida, home, Maj. Richard Chard of the Lee County Sheriff's Office said: 'The female was on the dining room floor. The male was on his bed with the dog next to him.' They were 'mummified and skeletonized', thanks in part to the electric bills having been paid automatically in the years since the deaths. The wall calendar and food in the refrigerator led detectives to estimate a March 1999 death date. Heinz Rubin, who found the bodies, said they were Liz Fuchs, 63, and Josef, 34, frequent visitors from Aachen, Germany. Investigtors stated that German relatives thought they had decided to stay in the US and US friends may have thought they had returned to Germany.

29 November 2002

Reports from New Zealand describe two Dunedin constables who were asked to deal with an escaped sheep. Sergeant Andrew Bardsley said one of the officers planned to scare the sheep in the other's direction, but the animal ended up attacking him. When it headed for the second officer, he wrestled it to the ground and handcuffed a front and hind leg together. He then had to call for backup, as he couldn't find the key.

While testing a high-powered bow indoors, Troy Johnson of Muncie, Indiana, accidentally shot his 11-month-old daughter in the head. Johnson, 21, will not be prosecuted, but Delaware County Division of Family and Children officials have ordered him to take a hunter education class. 'There was no evidence of any type of criminal intent or behavior that would rise to the level of criminal recklessness', according to J.A. Cummins, the county's chief deputy prosecutor.

Cambodian police released Kampong Thom province's Mao Savoeurn, 35, from custody now that she has signed a pledge not to abuse her children again. She had nailed her 13-year-old daughter's foot to the wooden floor, allegedly to punish her for playing elsewhere rather than helping with household chores. A human rights group claims that the girl, after escaping and seeking a neighbour's help, was forced to bring buckets of water from a distant well. Officer Ou Mech said that 'if it happens a second time, we will definitely pursue a legal course'.

In January of 1997, rubbish sorters in Portland, Oregon, discovered the compacted body of 47-year-old schizophrenic homeless man Richard Phelps, who had apprently been sleeping in a downtown skip when it was emptied. He is not the first. His sister is now suing the garbage company. Barbara Bassett seeks $10 million from USA Waste because, she says, they failed to take precautions that would prevent the death, such as requiring trucks' drivers to inspect the contents of skips before emptying them or installing a lock on each one. According to her lawyer, Greg Kafoury, 'the company knows there are human beings in dumpsters', to which USA Waste lawyer Jeff Johnson replied that 'what we do for a living is collecting garbage' and not social service.

Arlington, Virginia, police report that two plain-clothes officers were talking in a lot when another vehicle pulled up next to one of the two unmarked police vehicles. Investigators state that this car's driver, Fernando Arraya, began unscrewing the front licence plate of one of the police vehicles - while the officer was still inside. Arraya was arrested rather quickly.

The Mainichi Shimbun reports on an attempt to blackmail female nursery school teachers earlier this month. In nearly identical letters sent to at least 11 teachers in Tochigi prefecture, the blackmailer demanded 300,000 yen not to go public with the bogus accusation that the teacher's reckless driving had caused a major accident. It is thought that the recipients of the letters, which bore an address and telephone number similar to that of the Yuzugami municipal government, were selected randomly from a list of nursery school teachers.

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reports that a 42-year-old truck thief was being chased by the truck-owner's father, who was relaying events to police on his mobile phone while trying to avoid being run off the road by the thief's accomplices. Shortly after the thief abandoned the vehicle in Kurrajong and took off on foot, another driver ran over him. The newspaper states that witnesses saw him then drag the injured truck thief off the road and liberate the cash from his wallet. He is in Nepean District Hospital with a severe skull fracture and broken leg.

In another story from Japan, medical doctor Hideki Nemoto, 34, pleaded innocent of negligence for failing to notice the cause of four-year-old Shunzo Sugino's illness. In 1999, Nemeto told the child's mother that the boy was merely tired. In fact, a chopstick had entered his throat and pierced his brain, leaving him barely conscious. He died the next morning. The indictment reads that the child was eating candy floss when he fell on top of the chopstick around which the sugary treat had been wrapped.

British Columbia's Tammy Chibanoff has pleaded guilty to arson after she tried to burn down West Whalley Junior Secondary school - on three separate occasions, all in the space of a week. Chibanoff, 29, had developed friendships with several students, driving them around in her car and smoking marijuana with them. She also was a science teacher at the school and had received a layoff notice two days before the first blaze. All three fires were extinguished quickly, thanks in no small part to Fire Hall No. 2 being next door. Police took her in for questioning when she was seen laughing and dancing after the third fire started.
One reason for her marijuana use is that her partner Yvonne Daily had encouraged her to stop taking antidepressants in order to see if she really did have bipolar disorder. The court has now heard that she does and that students and other teachers had noticed her paranoid delusions. She has been given an 18-month conditional sentence.

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