Dateline: England—A district judge in Telford, Shropshire, recently acquitted Police Constable Mark Milton of speeding and dangerous driving after the officer told the court that he was merely “familiarizing” himself with a new patrol car. Milton, 38, was recorded by his patrol car's video camera going 159 mph on the M54 Hwy. in the early-morning hours of December 5, 2003. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents was shocked that such a speed was not considered dangerous by the court. Kevin Clinton, head of road safety, told the BBC News, “Police are governed by health and safety laws just the same as any other employee. We don't believe 159 mph can ever be justified on public roads.” Nonetheless, District Judge Bruce Morgan sided with the constable, calling him the “crème de la crème” of police drivers. Speaking on the steps of the court, Insp. Keith Howes of the Police Federation said, “PC Milton was driving in accordance with his training, honing his skills while possible and testing the vehicle's capabilities so that if he was required on an urgent call he would be driving safely.”
Dateline: West Virginia—The “humpday” jokes are endless. Last Wednesday, a woman in Shinnston went out into her yard to paint a fence. A 1,500-pound camel belonging to a neighbor happened to wander by and decided to take a little rest. Unfortunately, the animal chose to sit down directly on top of the woman. Fortunately, she had a cell phone and used it to call for help. Firefighters and the camel's owner eventually persuaded the beast to get up off the woman. Ambulance driver Brett Hicks told reporters that the woman was having some trouble breathing. “There is no protocol on something like this,” he added. The names of the woman and the camel's owner were not released. Neither, for that matter, was the name of the camel.
Dateline: Illinois—According to the Will County Sheriff's Department, local resident Steven Glenn kept a 10-inch diameter commercial-grade firework in his living room. The huge explosive, used only in professional firework shows, is illegal for Illinois residents to possess. Police found out about the item when Glenn, having consumed 10 beers, ignited it. “He lit the fuse and thought he could put it out,” Pat Berry of the Will County Sheriff's Department told Plainfield's NBC5 News. “Next thing he said he remembered was being transported to the hospital.” Doors and windows were blown out by the explosion and the house was gutted by the resulting fire. Glenn was injured by shrapnel and suffered burns. A female friend received burns on 50 percent of her body. “Everyone makes choices,” neighbor Melody Majewski said, “and that was not a good choice.”
Dateline: New York—A 25-year-old Oswego woman is now charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband. Just to add insult to injury, police say she used one of her ex-husband's credit cards to fly the would-be killer in from Australia. After noticing an authorized $2,824 charge on his credit card, Keith Costello notified Oswego police. Following an investigation, Costello's ex-wife, Terra L. Endres was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal solicitation and first-degree identity theft; both felonies. She is currently being held in Oswego County Jail in lieu of a $5,000 bail. Costello and Endres were married in 1999 and divorced in 2002. They have two children. Both are now in Costello's custody. Police Captain Michael Dehm told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he did not know how Endres and the man from Australia became acquainted, but the two had apparently been in communication by phone and e-mail for months. The man from Australia was detained by the FBI when he arrived in Los Angeles. Authorities declined to name the man, saying their investigation was continuing.
Dateline: Massachusetts—A convenience store owner in North Andover is accused of stealing a winning lottery ticket from a customer and cashing it in himself. The story began when Elizabeth Gelarderes, a special-education aide at North Andover High School, entered the Richdale Food Store for her usual Monday morning ritual: a cup of regular coffee and a lottery ticket. The next day, she returned with the ticket, bearing the birthdates of her two children, to see if she had won. Store owner Patrick Simboli, 45, allegedly took the ticket, checked it and told Mrs. Gelarderes that she had won a whopping $2. That evening, Simboli went to a lottery office in Woburn and cashed in a winning lottery ticket with the same numbers that were on Gelarderes' card. The jackpot: $46,000. After seeing the winning lottery numbers posted in her local paper, Gelarderes told the Boston Globe that she went back to the store and demanded her ticket back. Simboli told her that it had already been thrown away. Police say Simboli now faces felony charges of receiving stolen property and larceny over $250.