There were the usual wars and scandals; and there was the real news. Paul Sieveking
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

5 Kettering police launched a huge anti-burglary drive called Operation Bullseye. At the height of the operation, a thief or thieves reached in through an open window at London Road police station to help themselves to police radios, official papers, a briefcase and a radar speed gun. The items were eventually recovered. "Everyone is vulnerable to burglary," an embarrassed peeler told the local paper. Evening Telegraph; Weekend Telegraph

5 A careless resident of a Hamburg nursing home panicked as she rushed out during a fire drill, dropped her cigarette - and burnt the home to the ground. Sunday Mail

5 Two determined ambulancemen went to a house in a Norwegian village, slapped a hale and hearty Norwegian on to a stretcher and, despite his objections, rushed him to hospital in Krag-ero, 40 miles away. Meanwhile, the patient they'd been sent to deal with, who bore the same name, lived in the same village and was suffering from anaemia, drove himself to hospital, where he struggled to register because a clerk insisted he was already there. AP

5 After years of searching, botanists in New Zealand found an orchid thought to be extinct. As they took down their tent, they flattened the flower under a groundsheet. Western Morning News

5 Last January, Edward and Elizabeth Brimble took their Labrador-cross dog, Trudie, for her daily exercise in Bungay, Suffolk. When Trudie began to snarl and foam at the mouth, the Brimbles thought she was having a fit and pinned her down on the road for 10 minutes as she howled and suffered convulsions. It was only after she had died and Mr Brimble gave her a farewell stroke that he received an electric shock and realised that the ground was "live". Corroded wiring in a lamp-post was sending up to 240 volts through the concrete. The Brimbles had escaped electrocution because they were wearing rubber boots. Daily Mail

5 It was a bad month for three Fijian fishermen. All three tried to kill their catch by biting off its head and all three choked to death. The first fatality was a fisherman from the island of Rabi; he was followed, on 14 January, by 50-year-old Samueal Taoba, who got a fish head lodged in his throat; its spines lodged in his gullet and he suffocated before his friends could pull it out. Serupepeli Lumelume, 22, died in exactly the same way on 14 February, while fishing in a river near Narvosa on the island of Viti Levu. Reuter


5 A policeman had to be rescued by an Oxford University porter after he climbed into a locked compound at Trinity College to confront a burglar he saw transfixed in the moonlight, and found the thief to be a statue. Guardian

5 Just before he went into surgery on 20 February, Willie King joked with the staff at University Community Hospital in Tampa, Florida, urging them to be sure they knew which of his feet they were going to amputate. Alas, the surgeon, Rolando Sanchez, got it wrong. King, a 51-year-old diabetic, awoke to find he still had his gangrenous right foot. He eventually had both legs cut off just below the knee and settled with the surgeon for $250,000. After the accident, the hospital started a new policy of writing the word "No" on patients' limbs that are not to be amputated. AP

5 The Peterborough Evening Telegraph had to abandon its Spot The Ball competition in the first week of February because it left the ball in the photograph. Daily Telegraph

5 As the ball swung in for a corner, a rare griffon vulture with a 6ft wingspan attacked the referee and players during a football match on Tenerife. Injuries were not serious and the game resumed after the bird's departure. A newspaper report blamed sorcery by the opposing team. Ivoir' Soir (Ivory Coast)

5 Merryl Baker was appalled when she found three teeth in a chocolate bar called Galaxy Double Nut & Raisin. She complained to Mars, the manufacturer, and her story was reported in the Daily Star. Ms Baker then visited the dentist, where she was told that three of her back teeth were missing. "It was my mistake," she said, "and I feel such a fool." Retail Newsagent

5 Army bomb disposal experts were called in when a suspicious box was noticed outside Bristol Zoo, Avon. After the box was blown up, it was found to contain a rat left by its owner. He had, he said, been hoping for a new home for his pet. Daily Telegraph

5 The fox was forgotten when an all-male East Dulverton pack of hounds picked up the scent of 30 broody bitches from the Exmoor hunt at Winsford, Somerset. It took huntsmen 90 minutes to break up the orgy. Daily Mirror

5 A Kuhl pipistrelle bat, seen only once before in Britain, landed in a garden at St Blazey, Cornwall, and was promptly killed by a cat. Daily Telegraph


5 Heliodoro Camicero was savaged by a dead sheep in Spain: it came hurtling through the air and fell on him. It was one of many sent flying when Helio- doro, their shepherd, led his flock into the path of an oncoming express train. The train was derailed and he was fined pounds 150,000. Independent on Sunday

5 While drunk in Timaru, New Zeal-and, the unfortunately-named Grant Shittit saw what he took to be a bed of soft moss and lay down in it up to his neck. In reality, the "bed of moss" was a trench full of cement, and Shittit was stuck fast for three days until spotted by a passing motorist who thought he was a hedgehog. The People

5 There was a bad moment this month for Clacton holidaymakers when they found a set of male genitals on the beach. Shocked, they called the police who took the organs back to the station for expert examination. It was only then that relieved officers were told that the sex organs came from a large skate. They had been cut off and dumped by a fisherman. Weekend Telegraph

5 When Natron Fubble tried to rob a delicatessen in Miami, the owner broke Natron's nose with a giant salami. Fleeing, and clutching his nose in agony, the thief hid in the trunk of a car which turned out to belong to a police undercover surveillance team. It was five days before the cops, trailing another crook's lorry, heard Fubble's despairing whimpers. Newcastle Herald

5 As Anita Riggins picked up her telephone, she heard a voice outside her bedroom door saying: "Hang up. You are our prisoner." She at once locked herself in the room and rang the police on her mobile. A SWAT team was called into action and surrounded her San Francisco house. After evacuating the neighbours, the police stormed in when they heard gunshots - to find Anita's husband watching cops and robbers on TV. Sunday Express

5 On 18 March, a disturbed 25-year-old man jumped unnoticed into a funeral pyre at the Nigambodh Ghat cremation site, India. When he rose from the bier, engulfed in flames, he triggered a stampede of terrified onlookers. Agence France Presse


5 Benjamin Kulaindran, a preacher from Stanmore in north London, had a premonition that a nearby Esso petrol station was imminently to be attacked, so he rushed over to warn the garage staff. As he was explaining his vision to the cashier, he broke off to confront a gang of sweet thieves, one of whom broke his nose with a knuckle-duster. The others then knocked him unconscious before leaving. Guardian

5 Budding actor Paul Fifield, 19, from Girton, Cambridgeshire, was the model for a male nude made from plaster. However, art student Kate Freeland used wall plaster instead of plaster of Paris for the full-body mould, and Paul was in agony when she tried to break the solid cast. Firemen took him to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where he was given an anaesthetic as the plaster was hammered off. He had been wearing only Y-fronts and a pair of socks. "Kate had a book on how to do it," he said, "but I don't think she got further than the preface." Guardian

5 A ceremony to mark the 200th anni-versary of a wooden bridge in Mont- reux, Switzerland, ended abruptly when the bridge collapsed, throwing onlookers into the river. Sunday Mail

5 Police constable Ian Williams found a trout gasping for breath in a flooded field near the Thames Valley Police training centre at Sulhamstead, Berk-shire, but when he tried to give it the kiss of life, he got a nasty bite on the lip. Leicester Mercury

5 Charity cyclist Dominic Henegan pedalled 500 miles to Brussels and back without a hitch - but hit an ambulance just as he reached home in Nottingham. Southampton Daily Echo

5 A married businessman booked into the Post House Hotel in Edinburgh for an evening with his mistress, and gave the false name "Scott Anderson". It was an unfortunate choice, as a man of that name was wanted for questioning for murder and had been featured on BBC's Crimewatch the previous week. Hotel staff thought they recognised the amorous businessman as the real Anderson and alerted police. Armed officers crept up to the third-floor bedroom, ordered the man out and questioned him. As soon as his true identity was established, he checked out. Hotel staff were later trying to trace him, as he and the woman left without paying the pounds 100 bill. Daily Telegraph

5 Steve Carte, a Staffordshire milkman, had a spectacular day's fishing. He arrived at the River Teme to find all the best spaces gone - as was his bait, dropped somewhere between the riverbank and his home in Tamworth, where he'd put it on the car roof. He rushed into Worcester to buy more and picked up a pounds 15 ticket for parking on a double yellow line. Nine hours fallow fishing later, he got a bite. As he reeled a 9lb barbel in, he stepped on his other, pounds 100 rod, breaking it in three pieces, then lost the fish as he was landing it. He made to leave, discovered that his car had a flat tyre and then, as he went into a pub for a consolatory pint, gashed his hand on a wall. When at last he got home, he locked all his keys in the car and had to spend several hours on the doorstep waiting for his wife to come home. Guardian


5 Tony Randall, who had been asked to be a spokesperson for National Sleep Disorder Month, overslept on 9 May and missed a guest spot on the TV show Wake Up America. New York Post

5 A student at Fowler Elementary School in Ceres, California, caught a gopher and turned it over to the school's maintenance workers. In an attempt to freeze the burrowing rodent to death, the maintenance men placed the gopher in a bucket and sprayed it with several cans of Misty Gum Rem- over; while doing this, one of the men tried to light a cigarette, which ignited the fumes in the small utility room. The resulting explosion injured the three workers and 16 students nearby. Damage to the school was estimated at pounds 110,000. Ogden Standard Examiner

5 Pam Lucas of North Hill, Fareham, near Southampton, had an electricity man round to fix her cooker on 30 May. "I was looking out of the window when smoke started pouring from his van," she said. "Then it just leapt forward a few feet and hit our house." Though firemen had the blaze under control before the house could be badly damaged, the engine and cab were completely gutted. An electrical fault was thought to have started the van up, even though there were no keys in the ignition. Southampton Daily Echo

5 Farmer Peter Bailey of Tiverton, who has lost chickens, ducks and the family cat to what he believes is the Beast of Exmoor, tried to capture the elusive predator in a specially built wire cage on a remote stretch of moorland. Instead, he spent three days trapped inside the cage after triggering the door while laying bait. He survived by eating the bait - pheasant - and was freed by a passing shepherd. Daily Telegraph

5 Elderly golfer Jean Potevan threw his golf bag into a lake after missing three putts on the final hole of a disastrous round at Orleans (or Lyons - accounts differ) in France. Realising that his car keys were in the bag, he dived in fully clothed, but drowned when he got entangled in weeds. According to fellow player Henri Levereau, his last words were: "I'm going back for the keys, but I'm leaving the clubs down there." Sunday Express; Daily Mirror


5 Paddy Gardner was hit in the face by a cricket ball when batsman Andrew Symonds hit a four which flew off the outfield in a Gloucestershire versus Sussex match at Hove. As soon as she got back from first aid with an ice pack on her face, Symonds whacked her again with a searing six straight into her leg. Daily Mirror

5 As the Rev Robert Harris paused for reflection during his sermon about Jesus being led up the mount, the PA system at the Commercial Road Baptist Church in Hereford suddenly announced "Echo Alpha, incident at Symonds Rock: climbers in difficulty. Please attend." The church is just below the main police transmission mast, and ever since its PA system was upgraded, sermons have been interrupted by urgent police business. Independent

5 County jailer Michael Moreci of Illinois found himself in deep trouble for yelling "I beat up guys like you for a living!" at a motorist who annoyed him after an alleged traffic offence. Mr Moreci faced disciplinary action in Judge Sam Amirante's court. The judge was the motorist he yelled at. Sunday Times (South Africa).

5 Kurt Svensson, a 74-year-old owner of a block of flats in Grythyttan, Sweden, complained to the board of health about the large number of feral cats in the neighbourhood; as a result, about 10 cats were shot dead by police. The following day, 1 June, a 41-year-old man (not named in the report) noticed that his cat, Knorre, was missing. Assuming that Svensson was to blame for his cat's death, he showered abuse on him and threatened to kill him. That evening, Svensson's block of flats burned down, making Svensson and four other families homeless. The fire was shown to be arson, and several witnesses had seen the cat-owner running from the scene. In August, he was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. The irony was that on the very night the man had taken his revenge on Svensson, he later found his beloved cat asleep in his living-room. And if no one offered to take care of the animal while he was away in prison, it would have to be put down. Daily Express


5 Jodie Hobbs, 21, of Keswick, Cumbria, and John Roscamp, 24, of Grange- in-Borrowdale, were staying in Florida when they accepted an offer to join a skipper delivering a motor yacht to its owner in the Cayman Islands. Thirty-six hours out of Fort Lauder-dale, a hurricane struck the boat. The yacht began to fill with water, but, after eight hours, the storm abated. Reliev-ed, they headed for shelter in Cuba, only for the engines to fail. After six hours adrift, they were accidentally rammed by a 1,000ft tanker that was trying to throw them a line. The wheelhouse, bows and radio were wrecked. The tanker captain radioed for help, and, after a long delay, a Cuban patrol boat towed the yacht to San Lucia. The Cubans ransacked their boat and for-ced them to moor 200 yards offshore for three days with nothing to eat or drink. The couple were then taken to a detention centre where their money and passports were confiscated. After 12 hours, a guard allowed Miss Hobbs to call the British Embassy, and flights home were arranged. Daily Telegraph

5 A truckload of sausages and bacon sizzled to a crisp after the lorry caught fire - in Hamm, Germany. Daily Mirror

5 Sandra Robertson, 32, waited in all day for the green carpet she'd chosen to be fitted at her home in Hardwick Place, Woburn Sands, Buckingham- shire. Eventually, she called Allied Carpets, who in turn called the freelance fitter on his mobile phone - just as he was putting the finishing touches to the carpet in a bungalow with the same number in nearby Hardwick Road. He had been let into the empty property by an electrician who was working there. By coincidence, the front room had been cleared of furniture, so the fitter set to work. The People

5 Paul and Ann Kuhn left South Africa for Gravesend, Kent, to escape a crime wave in which they had been burgled eight times. But before they even moved into their new home, antique furniture valued at pounds 3,000 was taken from the house. Halifax Evening Courier

5 Farm hand Paulo Golart found bricks of what was actually plastic-wrapped marijuana hidden in a farm pen near Porto Alegre, Brazil. Thinking the dope to be strong-smelling alfalfa, he fed it to a cow and three heifers, which died of an overdose. Reuter

5 In late July, a motorist in Clair Park, Haywards Heath, got the fright of his life when the driverless car parked in front of him started up, reversed into him and burst into flames. Firemen believed there had been a short circuit in the ignition system; the car then leapt backwards because the owner had left it in reverse. Brighton Evening Argus

5 After a holiday at the Rothesay Hotel in Torquay, Devon, Ron Lenton, 75, set out for home, but got lost. At one stage, as his wife Rosa, 84, slept in the passenger seat, he was just 35 miles from his house in Littlehampton, Sussex, but he took one wrong turning after another. Finally, he headed back to the Roth-esay to start all over again - having already driven 360 miles. As they arrived at the hotel, Mrs Lenton woke up and asked: "Are we home?" The couple made it back to Littlehampton the next day with their vehicle on an AA lowloader. Daily Telegraph


5 A high-pitched recording of a bird in distress was set up to scare off seagulls at Staithes in North Yorkshire. Instead, the wailing attracted hundreds of other gulls who swooped in to see what was wrong. As the screeching black cloud descended on the village, tourists dived for cover and locals prepared for a major clean-up. Scarborough council abandoned the scheme and examined other ways of dispersing the birds. Wolverhampton Express & Star; Daily Mirror; Daily Telegraph

5 At Newark, a motorist accidentally ran over the first otter seen in Notting-hamshire for 40 years. Daily Telegraph

5 Publishers of a postcard featuring a romantic moonlit scene in Venice made a macabre gaffe. Above the words "Only you are missing" is a view of San Michele in Isola, the famous island cemetery of the city. Western Morning News; Independent

5 Police were called to a flat in Bourne-mouth after a passer-by heard screams of "Help!" They found 21-year-old Toni Hoare in the shower, singing along to the Beatles record at the top of her voice. Brighton Evening Argus

5 On 21 August, 18-year-old Anne Keane arrived at Shannon airport three hours early and asked an airport official for the Manx flight to Manchester. Her luggage was put on the plane, but was taken off when she failed to board after a series of broadcast appeals. After the plane had taken off, she was directed to the Belavia flight for Minsk, which took off from the same pier. She landed in the Belarus capital with no passport or visa and was thrown in jail for the night. She was freed after a Lufthansa official arranged a free flight to Frankfurt. British Airways - which operated the Manx flight - took her free of charge to Manchester, where she arrived more than 34 hours after leaving her home in Kilkee, Co Clare. Daily Telegraph

5 A brown shower drenched spectators enjoying an East of Scotland tournament at Craiglockhart Tennis Club, Colinton, Edinburgh. Witness John Paterson said: "I was sitting on the grass watching the tennis when I heard a loud slap. I looked around and my wife Jane's back and arms were covered in human excrement. Several other people sitting near her were covered too. The smell was unbearable - no one would go near them." At first, blame was put on the Edinburgh-to-Birming-ham shuttle which was passing overhead at the time, but stringent checks of the aircraft's sewage tanks ruled this out. Edinburgh District Council, which confirmed that the faeces were human, could offer no alternative explanation, and environmental health officers were no nearer a solution over a month later. Edinburgh Evening News

5 In an attempt to combat RSI, Amer-ican scientists introduced voice- activated computers for sufferers of the disease; alas, users of the machines experienced sore throats. Their problem? Repetitive Talk Injury. Guardian


5 A man from Barrow, Cumbria, who had lived in Australia for 30 years, returned to Cumbria in search of his long-lost brother, only to discover that he had emigrated - to Australia. Cumbrian Sunday News & Star

5 Attempting a surprise visit to his girlfriend while her parents were away, a young man in Nantes, France, climbed down the chimney of her home. He got trapped in the flew and had to call for help. Firemen had to destroy the chimney to rescue the distressed Romeo. AP

5 While Home Secretary Michael Howard was in the studio of Birming-ham radio station BRMB talking about beating crime, two boys aged about 10 walked into the reception area and stole 20 photographs of DJs and presenters. Wolverhampton Express & Star

5 A grouse shot at Balmoral plummeted into the Queen and hurt her shoulder. At first, the injury was regarded as mere bruising, but a subsequent medical examination showed that her collar bone had been fractured. Her Majesty was lucky. In 1904, according to Hugh S Gladstone in his Record Bags and Shooting Records (1923), a hare broke cover during a shoot on a moor in Dumfries & Galloway. "It was hit by a hen pheasant shot from the sky and knocked stone dead." Daily Telegraph; Daily Mirror; Times.

5 Pat Watson, 56, was nicknamed "Captain Calamity" by coastguards after lifeboats were launched eight times to help him during his trip. His 40ft vessel, a former RNLI lifeboat called the Janet Rae, was towed into Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight by the town's lifeboat late on the night of 25 September. Watson had set sail 12 days earlier to tow the Maplin, a 100-ton former minesweeper at least three times the size of his vessel, to Brightlingsea in Essex for refurbishment. But he ran aground three times; got lost in the Thames estuary for four days; ran out of fuel off Clacton; and squashed Carlo de Chair, the boat owner he was working for, between the quay and his vessel as he disembarked at Dover. Another man was washed overboard, dislocating both hips. A coastguard spokesman said: "It is a bit disturbing that someone can make a voyage such as this without being properly prepared. But there is no law against anybody putting to sea." Wolverhampton Express & Star; Daily Telegraph; Times; Herald Tribune

5 In Brazil, an Aids awareness TV campaign featuring a talking penis called Braulio was launched with huge hoopla - then axed by the government after men named Braulio complained that they were being ridiculed. Brighton Evening Argus

5 A man staggered into the casualty department of Belfast Hospital with a wind-up turtle attached to his testicles. He explained that his young son had dropped the toy into his bath. Then, a nurse said, "A mechanical joint connected to his tender bits and jammed solid." Sunday Mirror

5 Noticed in the booklet Beautiful Wales: "What Abersoch and Aber-daron have in neatness and style, Pwllheli makes up for in at least having a history, being granted a charter by the Black Ponce in 1355."

5 Millions of personal pagers across the United States were rendered useless on 26 September when a computer operator inadvertently sent out a command that turned off thousands of satellite receivers. Space Com, a satellite transmission service based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had to reprogramme the receivers manually, one by one. AP


5 A 60-year-old man who drove to a Toronto police station to find out whether he was sober enough to be behind the wheel of his car was charged with drunken driving. AP

5 Car thieves in Oldbury, West Midlands, battled through the night to steal a van. First they tried to "hot wire" the vehicle, then they pushed it half a mile down the road in a vain attempt to bump start it - and then they realised it didn't have an engine. The van's owner, Graham Goodwin, had stripped it out for repair. Cambridge Evening News

5 Meanwhile, Alan Turner spent 15 minutes every night securing his 145mph Vauxhall Astra. He activated an alarm, two immobilisers to paralyse the engine, a pedal lock and an automatic steering lock. He also shackled and padlocked the steering wheel, locked the bonnet and even chained the chassis to a huge hook in the driveway, which itself was just a few feet from his bedroom window in Cannock, Staff-ordshire. None the less, on 24 October he discovered that the car had been stolen; Mr Turner believes it would have taken three thieves at least 45 minutes to undo his handiwork. Daily Mirror, Edinburgh Evening News

5 Glen and Linda Thomas were in a state of high excitement when they flew from Manchester to Antigua to attend their daughter's Caribbean wedding. Unfortunately, as soon as they landed, they were told the island was being evacuated because of an approaching hurricane. They flew on to the Domin-ican Republic, where they stayed for four days while their daughter, Karen, 28, tried to switch her wedding to Neil Tappin, 30, to St Lucia. That achieved, the parents agreed to fly back to Gat-wick to pick up a direct flight to St Lucia. But at Gatwick they found the wedding had been delayed for another 24 hours because of a storm - after which they at last got to the church on time. Mrs Thomas said: "We spent 28 hours and 35 minutes in the air and landed 10 times at nine airports. Then, two days after the wedding, we had to fly home 4,000 miles. But when we saw Karen married on the beach, it made all the effort worthwhile." Daily Telegraph

5 A DC10 originating from Detroit and destined for Germany landed 200 miles away in Belgium - by mistake. Alth-ough the three-man Northwest Airlines crew only realised that they were ap-proaching the wrong airport just before touchdown, the 241 passengers on board had known all along from an electronic display of the plane's pro-gress that they were heading for the wrong country. Flight attendants didn't tell the crew (who were later suspended) that they were off course because they thought a hijack was in progress. Daily Mirror

5 As the rain poured down on 26 October, PC Terry Chard, 30, was dispatched to guard a black metal landmine washed up at Whitecliffe Bay beach on the Isle of Wight. Stoutly, and wetly, he stood at his post for five hours before being told by bomb disposal experts that the "mine" was a drain cover. Morning Star; Brighton Evening Argus


5 A teenager in Little Rock, Arkansas, who shaved his hair in solidarity with his mother, who had lost her hair because of chemotherapy, was beaten up by students who thought he was a skinhead. Hackensack Record

5 When driver Stephen Whitty saw police tailing him after he'd been out for a few pints, he panicked, sped off at 100mph and hid in a bush. To no avail: he was flushed out by police dogs, test-ed - and found to be under the drink-drive limit. However, Whitty, 24, of Chepstow, was fined pounds 1,000 for dangerous driving, banned for a year and ord-ered to re-take his driving test. Today

5 Twenty Indian men aged between 20 and 23 paid pounds 1,000 each to fly from Bombay to Tunis where, they were assured, clandestine groups would get them to England. In Tunis, they handed the last of their savings, pounds 2,000 a head, to Tunisian go-betweens and boarded a large fishing boat. They passed Sicily, which they were told was France, before being put ashore at "Dover" - in reality, Marina Piccola on Capri. Inquiries about how to get to Waterloo brought puzzlement from the surprisingly suntanned townsfolk, who seem-ed to have trouble understanding English. The Indians were arrested and locked up while arrangements were made for their return to Bombay. A police spokesman said: "We couldn't help feeling sorry. They were decent chaps and smartly dressed. They had been cruelly tricked." Daily Mail

5 Thousands of shoppers and employees from 116 shops and restaurants were evacuated for about three hours from the Eaton Centre, a giant shopping mall in downtown Toronto, after a milk carton was taken for an explosive device - an X-ray showed the carton to contain a sophisticated electronic set-up, complete with tiny battery, circuits and a microchip. About 35 police, bomb squad members, firemen and ambulance employees were involved, culminating in the detonation of what turned out to be a "talking" milk carton, used in a competition in which customers win cars and holidays if their milk carton "moos" at them. Hours later, Detective John Tinkler examined the remains of the carton inside a soggy plastic evidence bag and remarked, "I don't know if it said anything, but since I got it, it hasn't talked at all." Toronto Star

5 A bad day for sub-editors on the South China Morning Post. The newspaper published a photograph of Quebec separatist leader Lucien Bouchard and his wife above a caption identifying the couple as Fred and Rosemary West, and beneath the headline "Cheerful, Charming Odd-jobman West Driven By Sex And Sadism". New York Daily News

5 Forty-eight-year-old Arthur Curley of Niagara Falls was accused of trying to make his girlfriend swallow a small brass bear, then urinating on her and setting fire to the oxygen tube which she uses to treat her emphysema. He was charged with arson. USA Today


5 When 35-year-old Hans Fahle came home to find a large bag of white powder on his doorstep in Cologne, Germ-any, he used it to ice a cake he had just baked. Just as he was about to tuck in, two men rang the doorbell to ask for their bag back - a bag containing 90 grammes of cocaine, which, they said, Hans's girlfriend had left for them to collect. The men's intervention probably saved Hans's life - had he eaten his cake, he would almost certainly have died from acute cocaine poisoning - but Hans was far from grateful. Instead, he telephoned the local police and had the men arrested for drug- dealing. Evening Standard

5 To launch their campaign to highlight the threat to conservation areas, seven members of Friends of the Earth stuck markers into dunes at Southport, Merseyside, that contained the burrows of rare sand lizards. Their well- meaning action risks destroying the colony, and they faced legal action from the council. Whether the colony has been damaged will not be known until next year, as the 8in-long lizards are (it is hoped) currently hibernating. Daily Telegraph

5 A 35-year-old taxi driver in Moheda, Sweden, picked up a young woman with the hiccups. He offered her a drink, but this didn't help. Then, in an attempt to frighten her - which he believed might cure her hiccups - he picked up speed and braked hard several times, but the woman wasn't remotely scared. His next step was to pull his cap over his face and shout "Boo!", but this made her laugh. He then threatened to take her into the woods and rape her, but this only made her laugh harder - almost to the point of choking. In desperation, he actually attacked her. Her mirth turned to fury and she told him that - hic! - she had several - hic! - skinhead friends, who - hic! - would teach him a lesson. This, the taxi driver later told police, had a calamitous effect; he suffered from all the phobias known to science and took daily medication to suppress his fears. The girl's threats made him panic, so he tried to strangle her. This stopped the woman's hiccuping, but she turned blue, so he phoned the police and an ambulance. Luckily, the woman survived and recovered in hospital, while the taxi driver was sent down for three-and-a-half years for attempted manslaughter. Simply holding one's breath is nearly always enough to cure hiccups. Kvallsposten, Sydsvenska Dagbladet

5 Keen to impress his girlfriend, 18-year-old Kevin Hall of Bridgeport, Connecticut, tried to show her the sawn-off shotgun he had hidden in his trousers, but managed only to shoot himself in the penis. He was taken to hospital and treated, after which he was arrested on several charges, including possession of a sawn-off shotgun. Herald Tribune !