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 V.14 No.24 | June 16 - 22, 2005 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Australia—Alerted by some “flipping” noises coming from beneath a female passenger's skirt, customs officials at Melbourne airport investigated further and discovered an apron of plastic, water-filled bags containing 51 live tropical fish. The 43-year-old woman arrived in Melbourne on a flight from Singapore last Friday. Customs officials are still trying to determine what type of fish she smuggled into the country and have not yet charged her with an offense. She could face charges of breaking quarantine and customs laws for bringing in the fish without giving a declaration.

Dateline: Canada—A New Brunswick man who told police that a friendly dog ended his plans for a bloody shooting rampage was sentenced to three years in prison last week after admitting it was all a scam to get free surgery in jail. According to the Edmonton Sun, Ontario Court Justice Brent Knazan described James Stanson as a “manipulative, duplicitous, entitled con man.” The 44-year-old Stanton, who was found with firearms and ammunition in his car last year, told police he'd been planning a mass murder but changed his mind after meeting a friendly dog. He has since told the court he invented the story because he wanted to be detained so he could receive heart surgery. The surgery was performed last November while Stanson was in custody.

Dateline: Cambodia—The “underwear thieves” are back. Residential burglars who strike while wearing only underwear, their bodies slathered with oil to make them slippery and harder to catch, have resurfaced. Two unidentified, underwear-clad burglars robbed homes in the southern province of Takeo on May 30, The Cambodia Daily quoted area police chief Sok Tum as saying. Police thought they had put an end to the “underwear gang” last year, the report said. Residents had started a community watch program to prevent such crimes, Sok Tum said. But “the underwear thieves resurfaced in my region because the villagers stopped [patrolling],” he said.

Dateline: England—Two Star Wars fans are in critical condition after staging a mock lightsaber duel in the woods outside Hemel Hemstead, Hertfordshire. A man, age 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have used fluorescent light tubes as the blades of their lightsabers. To give the weapons an even more realistic glow, the duo came up with the brilliant idea of filling the tubes with gasoline. Not so surprisingly, the glass tubes exploded when they were lit on fire. A police spokeswoman told BBC News that the two Jedi geniuses were taken to West Herts Hospital before being transferred to the specialist burn unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in Essex. Initially, police were confused about the circumstances that led to the incident--that is, until a videotape chronicling the entire episode was found by police called to the scene. A third person present at the incident has been questioned.

Dateline: New York—In other flammable news, would-be gasoline thieves are hereby advised to invest in flashlights. According to the sheriff's department in Thurman, Glen Germain, Jr., was busy siphoning gas from a dump truck at a business in the Adirondacks last month. Since it was dark out, Germain decided to see how full his container had become by whipping out his lighter and sparking it up. Not so surprisingly, the container of gasoline ignited, causing minor burns to Germain's face and hands. The fire then spread to a nearby forklift, which was destroyed in the blaze. Germain has now been charged with petty larceny and criminal mischief. This was Germain's second arrest in a month for stealing gasoline from a business in the town of Thurman.

Dateline: Maine—On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at Calais. He was carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. Customs agents confiscated the weapons and let him enter the United States. The next day, Despres' neighbors in Minto, New Brunswick, were found dead in their home. Fredrick Fulton, a 74-year-old country musician was found dead on his kitchen floor. His severed head was in a pillowcase under the kitchen table. Fulton's common-law wife was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom. Despres, 22, was eventually arrested on April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway wearing a sweatshirt covered in red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges and is awaiting an extradition hearing. Bill Anthony, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, admitted to reporters that the case “sounds stupid,” but defended the actions of agents, saying, “Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of the country.” Plus, you know, Despres wasn't Arabic.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.


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