Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
(Eric J. Garcia)
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Dateline: Australia— A pair of burglars staged a midnight raid on a house in Melbourne last week. Unfortunately, while the burglars were prying open a window on one side of the house, police were busting down the door on the other. Turns out the house was allegedly being used for growing hydroponic cannabis and detectives were carrying out a raid to arrest the resident, a man in his 20s. Startled to find a squad of heavily armed police officers inside the residence, the burglars fled but were caught a couple of days later, according to Det. Senior-Sgt. Paul Cassidy of Melton CIU. “It is unusual,” he said.

Dateline: England— Apparently, no news is good news, but in Leicestershire no newts is bad news. Officers of the Leicestershire Council recently spent one million pounds ($1,980,000) to help protect a colony of great crested newts after finding evidence of them in ponds near a proposed $30 million road construction site. The 6-inch amphibians are protected by EU law and the Wildlife and Countryside Act, making it illegal to capture or kill them or to disturb their habitat. Construction of the bypass for the village of Earl Shilton had to be suspended last summer after evidence of the endangered creatures was discovered. Last week, however, officials were forced to admit their money was wasted after further investigation revealed no great crested newts in the area. Hundreds of thousand of pounds were spent on newt-proof fences and traps to help move the newts when hibernation ended in spring. With spring now in full effect, Council engineer Derek Needham was forced to admit, “We have caught normal newts but no great crested newts.”

Dateline: Illinois— The Register-Mail in Gailsburg reports an 84-year-old local man told police he was assaulted with MoonPies outside of a Dollar General store. The victim said he was in line in front of 53-year-old homeless man Michael Farquer at the store. He paid for his items and was leaving the store on foot when he felt something striking him repeatedly on the back. The victim said he turned around and found Farquer hitting him with an item inside a yellow Dollar General bag. The senior returned to the store and asked a cashier to call the police. While the cashier made the call, Farquer allegedly stood nearby, raising and shaking the bag while chanting, “Hi yuh.” Farquer told police he didn’t remember attacking the victim, but he had spent time in jail for a similar incident a few years ago. Police later determined the item inside the bag was a $1 box of MoonPies. The battered box was taken for evidence.

Dateline: Minnesota— William E. Lehman, 58, of Chisholm didn’t like his court-appointed lawyer–so he beat the man up in court and asked the judge for a new attorney. The judge said no and, last Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with him. After returning from a break in his July 2006 trial for knifing two men during a dispute over some loud music, Lehman attacked public defender Mark Groettum from behind, locking his arm around the lawyer’s neck and punching him repeatedly in the face. “Blood was all over Groettum, the counsel table and the floor of the courtroom,” according to a court document. The incident happened in front of the jury, the judge and all the others in a St. Louis County courtroom. After the beating, Groettum told 6 th Judicial District Judge James Florey that ethically he could no longer be Lehman’s attorney. Lehman asked for another attorney, but the judge turned him down. Lehman was forced to represent himself for the rest of the trial. The Minnesota Court of Appeals concurred with Florey’s decision, agreeing that a defendant gives up his right to a court-appointed lawyer when he beats up the one he has. “We are aware that forfeiting a defendant’s right to court-appointed counsel is an extreme sanction,” Court of Appeals Judge Francis Connolly wrote in summation. “But the outrageous and manipulative conduct of appellant in this instance justified the district court’s decision.” Lehman was ultimately convicted of his original crime and is serving 14 years at the Moose Lake state prison. For the attack on his lawyer, the judge threw in an additional six months for contempt of court.

Dateline: Louisiana— Barber Clyde Scott learned the hard way that it’s illegal for haircutters to ply their trade on Sundays, Mondays, many federal holidays and even the day after Labor Day in the city of Houma. Houma serves as the parish seat of Terrebonne Parish and is home to some 30,000 people. Scott, who has owned Clippas Barbershop in Houma for about two years, opened his shop on May 19 and received a ticket for his trouble. “I didn’t know it existed,” said Scott, 32, of the obscure law. “It’s crazy.” District Attorney Joe Waitz Jr. said he won’t prosecute the case and is asking the parish council to repeal the law as unconstitutional. “It’s our job to prosecute criminals, not barbers,” he told the local Courier newspaper.

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

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