1. Man pulls on train brake to get cell phone
2. Woman faked abduction: Court leniency for bulimia sufferer who cost police 20,000 pounds
Many officers were diverted from work on other cases during the 36 hours Joanna Grenside, 25, was missing and in the following two days when detectives believed they were still dealing with serious allegations.
Yesterday magistrates at St Albans were told that the operation, which involved a helicopter and an underwater search team drafted in from another force, cost more than pounds 20,000.
But Pat Larner, the magistrates' chairman, said a 12- month conditional discharge, with pounds 100 costs, was sufficient punishment after reading medical reports that Miss Grenside had been suffering from the eating disorder bulimia and could not face the parties and food that went with Christmas.
Afterwards Miss Grenside, of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, who admitted the charge, declined to comment except to say she was pleased that the affair, which began 10 days before the Christmas holiday last year, was over.
Patrick Fields, for the prosecution, said Miss Grenside's colleagues at Harpenden leisure centre, where she was a fitness and aerobics instructor, became worried when she was late for her evening shift and soon found her Ford Escort abandoned in the car park. Police quickly found her rape alarm, only later discovering she had deliberately discarded it. Initially Hertfordshire police believed she had been kidnapped and set up an incident room, instigated a massive search of the area using dogs and eventually hired the neighbouring Thames Valley force's helicopter and underwater search team.
In all, Mr Fields said, 1,800 hours of police time was invested in the search operation which had cost pounds 20,387. She turned up at the sports centre at 7am two days later, dishevelled, covered in mud and looking shocked, claiming she had been abducted and held prisoner.
She told police that she had been sexually assaulted and later that she had been raped. But because of her distress officers stopped questioning her over the weekend. However, other inquiries revealed that exactly one year earlier, a former colleague of Miss Grenside's at a casino on the Gold Coast in Australia had also faked her disappearance to get publicity.
'When the interview restarted officers made it clear to Miss Grenside that she was no longer believed,' Mr Fields said. 'Almost immediately Miss Grenside broke down and admitted the whole thing was a hoax she had staged.'
Mr Fields said that Miss Grenside had suffered anorexia when she was 16, but this had developed into bulimia, a disease in which victims eat and then make themselves vomit to avoid gaining weight.
Michael Allan, for Miss Grenside, said that as she worked at the sports centre the disease had grown worse. But, he added: 'I don't think to this day that she understands why she did it. It's rather like a snowball, it rolls along.' In mitigation, Mr Allan said that Miss Grenside had since embarked on a course of treatment.
3. 'Selfish' mum snatched baby to pass off as on-off boyfriend's and 'cement relationship'
Single mum Kelly Mahon, 41, snatched the tot, who cannot be named, as part of her plan to convince Dwight Dennis the baby was his, a court heard.
The hearing was told she stalked a woman after seeing her at a bus stop and abducted the boy from her on February 24.
She knocked on her door at 3pm and told the mum that her husband had been in a road accident and was lying unconscious in the street, the court heard.
Mahon then played Good Samaritan and offered to look after the child while the woman went to find her injured partner, the hearing was told.
But when the mum realised there had not been an accident, she returned to her home in Arleston, Telford, Shrops, and discovered her son was missing.
West Mercia Police launched an urgent manhunt and the boy was found at 6.10pm asleep at Mahon's home two miles away.
Today, Mahon was jailed for two years at Shrewsbury Crown Court after pleading guilty to kidnapping the baby by force or by fraud at a previous hearing.
Judge Tim Tindal told her: "It is a strange and troubling case and it seems to me that the roots lay quite deep in your past.
"Seven years ago, you had had enough in your past controlling relationship and found your current partner.
"You desperately wanted children. You were stood at a crossroads. One path would have been to be honest, the other was to lie. What happened next is entirely down to you.
"The lie got out of hand. You enjoyed attention from friends and family after the pregnancy announcement. You started to develop a plan.
"Then, in February 2016, you had a pipe dream.
"This was a pre-meditated incident. You had seen the baby and mother before. You went to the house and told an awful and cynical lie and scared her into leaving the baby with you.
"Then you tricked someone else into taking you and the baby to your house.
"As a parent myself, I cannot begin to imagine to terrors faced by the family.
"The baby will have no memory of this, but the parents will remain scarred for the rest of their lives.
"You have no significant criminal history and the psychiatric reports predict no risk of reoffending.
"It was an incredibly selfish act because you have a daughter. You were so wrapped up in your own concerns and obsessions.
"For this reason, only a custodial sentence would be justified."
Pet shop worker Mahon was ordered to serve at least half of her sentence, and was also disqualified from working with children for life.
The court heard that when officers searched Mahon's home they found boys and girls baby clothes.
Prosecutor Nigel Stelling said Mahon plotted to snatch the baby in a desperate bid to pass off as her own after pretending she was pregnant with Mr Dennis' child.
He said: "Miss Mahon was in a relationship with a man on and off for seven years.
"The man had a wife who could not have children, but he desperately wanted children.
"In a bid to keep her relationship, Miss Mahon told him she was pregnant.
"She was sterilised when she was 24, so this was not possible."
The court heard she targeted the family of the baby after first bumping into them at a bus stop.
Mr Stelling said: "The defendant went to the family home and knocked on the door and told her her husband had been in an accident.
"The mother was very anxious and upset and was in something on a panic. She phoned her husband and he told her he was fine and hadn't been in an accident.
"Miss Mahon then took the baby and went home. News of the baby's disappearance was widespread very quickly.
"A number of people had seen the defendant acting unusually and suspiciously in the days before the incident.
"Police were given her name and address and went and found her with a friend and the baby.
"The baby was in good health and not in harm. The baby was taken to hospital after being with Miss Mahon for three hours.
"The police found a selection of boy's and girl's baby clothes, toys, baby milk and so on.
"All of that points to the fact that pre-planning had taken place, not necessarily of this child but a child.
"A degree of forethought and planning took place. She told price there was no pre-planning and that it was a spur of the moment decision.
"It is not sadly the first time that Miss Mahon claimed to be pregnant when in fact she was not."
Mahon first pretended she was pregnant with Mr Dennis' child in 2013 but told him she had suffered a miscarriage, the court heard.
Last June she again told him she was expecting his child until her lies were exposed following her arrest.
The court heard Mahon had a string of previous convictions for dishonestly between 1997 and 2001 including being jailed for 28 days in 1999.
Peter Cooper, defending, said: "She had previously visited this street a matter of days before this incident.
"She met the family by chance at a bus stop previously. She went in the hope of taking him (the baby). It is in many ways a sad case that is utterly out of character.
"When the police went to her door, she didn't initially confess. But within a matter of minutes, she said to police 'I'm just sorry I did it'.
"It must have cause unimaginable distress to the baby's parents and will no doubt have lasting effects on their peace of mind.
"The baby was not harmed in any way. There is no suggestion that Miss Mahon would have wished to harm him. It was an unpleasant deception on the mother.
"This was doomed to fail and was short-lived. It was naively done and she left an obvious trail. Clearly a baby cannot just sprout up at a home somewhere. It was breath-taking naivety.
"The baby was not mistreated and it will not affect him. It is a very sad offence. Miss Mahon didn't feel secure in her relationship.
"She told him she was pregnant again in 2013. He had been pleased at the hope of having a child, but Miss Mahon pretended to miscarry.
"In June 2015, she told him again that she was pregnant. She wanted the child to cement the relationship.
"He now knows she has been sterilised and that there is no possibility of a similar deception happening again."
After the sentence, the parents issued a statement through West Mercia Police.
They said: "Our son is a beautiful, healthy and happy boy. He is very loving and is developing a distinct personality of his own.
"We cannot express our delight and utter relief that he was returned to us safe and well.
"When we realised he was gone, we have never felt an emotion like it before. We hope no parents ever feel the way I felt that day.
"What happened is every parent's worst nightmare and the reality is worse than you can ever imagine.
"While he was missing, we cannot explain how we felt. The thought that our practically newborn son was alone, frightened and in a strange place with someone he did not know is indescribable.
"It was hard not to imagine the worst in that sort of situation.
"We both felt sick. It was impossible to think straight. We just wanted to be out there looking for him ourselves.
"We are glad everything is over and resolved. We want to get back to normal and be together as a family.
"We are looking forward to moving on; putting this behind us and watching our son grow up."
4. Man holding breath in Oregon tunnel causes crash
Daniel J. Calhon, of Snohomish, Washington, told investigators he fainted Sunday afternoon while holding his breath in the Highway 26 tunnel near the community of Manning, according to a news release. His car, a 1990 Toyota Camry, drifted across the centerline and crashed head-on with a Ford Explorer.
Both vehicles struck the tunnel walls before a pickup hit the Camry.
Calhon and his passenger, 19-year-old Bradley Meyring, of Edmonds, Washington, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, as did the two people in the Explorer: Thomas Hatch Jr., 67, and Candace Hatch, 61, from Astoria. All four were taken to hospitals.
The two people in the pickup were not hurt.
Calhon was cited for reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault in Washington County Circuit Court. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings said Monday he's not sure why Calhon was holding his breath, but some people hold their breaths in tunnels as part of a game or superstition.
The tunnel, called the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel, was completed in 1940 and carries the highway through the Northern Oregon Coast Range mountains. It's 772 feet long, meaning that a car traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph would get through it in about 10 seconds.
Teen Causes 3-Car Crash While Holding Breath Through Tunnel
When driving, don't text, don't dial — and don't hold your breath until you're blue in the face.
A Washington state teenager broke that last rule Sunday night. While driving through a tunnel near Manning, Ore., 19-year-old Daniel J. Calhoon fainted from holding his breath.
His Toyota Camry crossed the center line and rammed into an oncoming Ford Explorer. Both vehicles hit interior tunnel walls, according to Oregon State Police, before a pickup truck collided with the Camry.
Four people were injured, including one seriously.
Calhoon told investigators he'd held his breath intentionally, apparently participating in a superstitious game.
"Upon entering a tunnel, passengers hold their breath," the lifestyle magazine Complex explained last year. (Emphasis added.) "Parents love this game because if you pass out for a while after holding your breath too long, everybody wins. Unless you're the driver, then everybody loses."
A spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said it doesn't have any statistics to indicate how often drivers pass out after choosing to deprive themselves of air. In 2011, a man named Geof Huth posted a video to Vimeo of himself attempting to hold his breath while driving the length of a tunnel in Maryland, audibly gasping as he comes out of it.
The Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel, where Calhoon crashed, is 772 feet long. That means a car traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph would pass through it in about 10 seconds, according to The Associated Press.
"I'm sure the person that did this didn't know that they were gonna pass out," Sarah Winslow, a local physician, told KATU in Portland, Ore. "They probably thought, 'Oh, I'll just start breathing again.' It's sad that they had so much effect from playing a game."
The Oregon State Police tweeted in response to the accident, "Don't play games on our roads."
5. Late passenger arrested after 'phoning in bomb threat so he wouldn't miss his flight' (and he could now be banned from flying)
An Italian man is facing a possible prison sentence or hefty fine after he allegedly called in a bomb threat so he wouldn’t miss his flight.
The 46-year-old passenger was running late for his flight from Turin to Rome, so he called a local police station and claimed there was a bomb on board the Alitalia plane, said police.
He succeeded in his attempt to delay the flight, but he was arrested by police when he arrived at Turin Airport.
According to a report by Italian newspaper La Stampa, the man called police and claimed he overheard two Arabic-speaking passengers say ‘they had put a bomb on board’.
The plane was moments away from take-off when the threat triggered a state of emergency at the airport on Thursday night.
It was forced to return to the terminal, where all of the passengers and their luggage were removed and searched.
After the threat was determined to be a hoax, the plane took off and arrived in Rome two and a half hours behind schedule.
The man who allegedly called in the threat was travelling to Palermo for work, and was held overnight by police and released the following morning, La Stampa reported.
In addition to facing time in prison and a fine if convicted, the man could be added to Italy’s passenger blacklist.
In May, a 33-year-old man was arrested by French police after calling Bordeaux-Mérignac airport and claiming there was a bomb.
Police said the man made the bogus threat to delay a plane because his girlfriend was stuck in traffic and in danger of missing her flight.
6. Man fakes his own death to get out of wedding
Well here's one way to get out of your own wedding - although we wouldn't recommend it. Alex Lancaster and Tucker Blandford were set to be married on August 15th of this year, but something tragic happened. Or at least it seemed like something tragic happened.
While Lancaster was living in the UK and planning their wedding, her fiance had been living in the US for several months. One day, Lancaster received a shocking call from a man who said he was Blandford's father.
The man told her that her hubby-to-be had been suffering from depression and died after throwing himself in front of a car.
You can imagine this was quite shocking to Lancaster, who eventually called her in-laws back only to discover Blandford was very much alive and well. (Blandford had placed the call himself.) She also found out the venue where they were supposed to marry had never actually been reserved.
Blandford reportedly told media outlets he pulled the outrageous stunt because he got cold feet, saying, "I'm a terrible, awful person. I know I shouldn't have told her I was dead, but I didn't know what else to do."
Here's a thought. Instead of pretending to killing yourself, just walk away. Or better yet ... run.
Man Fakes Own Death to Avoid Upcoming Wedding
Wedding season is upon us. It's understandable that some people get cold feet, but this guy went to extremes to avoid getting married — by faking his own death.
Tucker Blandford, 23, met his bride-to-be, Alex Lanchester, in August 2012 at a college in Connecticut. They hit it off and quickly fell in love.
Lanchester, from the United Kingdom, was studying abroad for a year. When that year was up, they shared a tearful goodbye at the airport, where Blandford got down on one knee and proposed.
They were to be married on Aug. 15. Lanchester spent over $1,000 on wedding invitations, the photographer, the wedding dress, and other preparations. Blandford even booked a venue on the campus where they had met.
Then one day Lanchester got a phone call from a man identifying himself as Tucker's "dad," saying his son had been depressed and had "thrown himself in front of a car," ending his life.
Devastated, she called Tucker's mother to offer condolences. Tucker's mother told Lanchester that her son was in fact alive and well.
Tucker later admitted that he had impersonated his father on the call. He told a reporter at the UK's Daily Mail: "I'm a terrible, awful person. I know I shouldn't have told her I was dead, but I didn't know what else to do. Alex is an amazing girl, but I got scared and wanted to get out of the relationship."
Lanchester is moving on from all this and is back in the United States, traveling.
She's handling this well, but what do you think about how this guy avoided his own wedding? Let us know in the comments below.
7. I chew! Woman who was ‘fattened up’ by jealous boyfriend to deter love rivals says yes to marriage proposal after two years of binge-eating
Attractive Yan Tai weighed just over seven stone when she began dating You Pan in South China's Guangdong Province.
But two years on when You asked her to marry him she was almost unrecognizable, according to The People's Daily.
Yan's weight had almost doubled - after she ballooned up to 14 stone 2lbs.
But her six-and-a-half-stone weight gain was all part of a plan to keep You's pretty girlfriend by his side forever.
Over months he made sure she ate as much as she could everyday, splashing out on meals for Yan almost every day.
The 20-year-old was treated to big breakfasts, huge lunches and massive dinners.
He even woke her up and fed her midnight snacks in a bid to stop her attracting too much attention from other men.
Now the 25-year-old feeder has popped the question to his girlfriend with a bouquet made, most fittingly, out of Ferrero Roche.
The food-obsessed romantic even made the proposal to his ‘goddess’ at their favourite street of restaurants as friends held up pictures of the couple's favourite foods.
Beaming with happiness, Yan said 'yes' and the happy couple sealed the deal with a kiss as friends at the venue cheered on.
You has now promised to feed her even more once they are married.
8. Man who fakes seizures to get out of dinner tab is at it again, police say
Andrew Palmer, 46, notorious for racking up food and drink tabs at area restaurants, then faking seizures to get out of paying the bill, was arrested early Monday after owners said he refused to pay a $50 bill at Viccino Jay's Italian Gourmet on Charles Street.
The night before, he went limp at upscale barbecue restaurant Oliver Speck's in Harbor East when it was time to settle up on a $90 tab, according to the owner and a patron.
"The paramedics showed up and said, 'Looks like our guy's back,'" said Oliver Speck's chef Jesse Sandlin. "He would not wake up, and they were like, 'Come on Andy, stop faking.'"
Police say Palmer, who has a career rap sheet more than 90 arrests long and has been found guilty of petty theft at least eight times in the past year, is making the rounds again.
He's being held at Central Booking in lieu of $1,500 bail. His most recent public defender did not return a message seeking comment. Court records list Palmer as homeless or at an address on South Broadway that no longer exists.
It's not that prosecutors haven't been able to win convictions against Palmer. It's that the crime — in most cases, theft under $100 — doesn't carry a large enough penalty to deter someone with a taste for good food and drink who's willing to do jail time. And because it's a nonviolent offense, those who are found guilty serve only a fraction of their sentences.
Officials with the Baltimore state's attorney's office could not be reached for comment, but police accounts from recent cases tell a familiar story.
In December, police say, he had the $24.99 shrimp platter and four alcoholic beverages at the Inner Harbor's Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory. "This is an ongoing problem with Mr. Palmer in the downtown area," Officer Daniel Sexton wrote in charging documents.
In January, police say, he went large at Sullivan's Steakhouse, ordering the chicken piccata with a lobster add-on, a 22-ounce ribeye steak, four Blue Moon beers, three Bacardis and, for good measure, a coffee. It led to his second arrest of the week.
"Palmer's seizure occurred when he was confronted about his unpaid bill as he exited the restaurant," Officer Michael McGrath wrote in a statement of probable cause. McGrath added that Palmer is "well known to local restaurants and members of the Baltimore Police Department."
The unpaid tab: $160. The sentence: one year in jail.
He was out by July. That month, police say, he had three Blue Moon drafts, an espresso martini, two beers from Union Brewing Co. and three Stoli Oranges at the Admiral's Cup, good for a $72 bill, then went into the back of the Fells Point restaurant and had what appeared to be a seizure. In writing a report, the officer listed Palmer's alias as "Dine and Dasher."
Court records show the case was dropped, but he received a citation for another theft charge a few days later and got 90 days in jail.
Matt Belardi, 37, was hanging out at Oliver Speck's in Harbor East on Saturday night when he said patrons noticed the man at the bar mumbling to himself.
Sandlin said Palmer was dressed normally and was pleasant. He had ordered the pork chops, macaroni and cheese, soup and several drinks. A bartender believed he was getting too intoxicated, and Sandlin said to cut him off. She said he collected his things, then put his head down on the bar and passed out.
Belardi was skeptical. "You could tell he wasn't really passed out. He had gone from zero to blackout in the snap of a finger," Belardi said.
Sandlin called police and said the officer who arrived said the best she could do was write him a citation, and it is unclear whether one was issued. No such charge for that night appears in the state's court records database, and a police spokesman could not say late Tuesday what action, if any, the officer took.
The next night, police charged Palmer with refusing to pay at Viccino Jay's Italian Gourmet, near Penn Station.
"He was just watching the football game, eating food, and when it came time to pay, he didn't have any money," said manager Jeri Shuck, who said Palmer didn't require medical attention that night. "It's a horrible thing for someone to be doing, but for him it's a pretty good situation — get a free meal, get locked up, get a free meal. Just a running circle."
Sandlin's frustrated that authorities can't put a stop to it.
"If this guy came up and mugged me on the street and took $90 from me, he would've gotten arrested," she said.
Unarmed robbery, when something is taken by force, carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, but theft, a property crime, brings a maximum of 90 days.
"What's the difference in the end?" Sandlin asked.
Palmer has been convicted of ripping off the Capital Grille, the now-closed Burke's and Shucker's, Maisy's, and restaurants in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and St. Mary's counties.
9. Blood donors turned away after selfish car owners stop the arrival of vital equipment
The bizarre situation occurred on Thursday at Windsor Youth and Community Centre off Alma Road, which is often used an an NHS blood donor venue.
Two sessions were planned for that day. Regular donors had been contacted and invited to attend.
But they arrived in the afternoon to find the NHS team sitting there unable to start - while the van containing all their vital equipment was stranded yards away down the road.
Gayle Franklin, Area Manager for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “ The lorry carrying our equipment could not get down the narrow access road because cars were parked on double yellow lines on both sides of the road. There were 95 appointments made for the afternoon session that had to be cancelled. We were able to hold the evening session as normal.
"We’re sorry our loyal donors were not able to give blood at Windsor Youth and Community Centre on this occasion and we understand how frustrating this must have been."
But Phil Clapham, a senior youth worker based at the centre was not surprised.
He said the small road that leads to the centre from off Alma Road is often blocked by appalling parkers.
He worries about what would happen if the centre caught fire or a young person was taken ill and needed an ambulance.
He said: "The police can't do anything because it is a private road.
"We stuck notices on cars last week but it does not seem to have done any good. One driver who came back after the blood donor session had been cancelled simply shrugged and drove off."
Meanwhile Gayle Franklin has warned the blood donor service might have to find another venue in Windsor to hold its sessions in.
This week the Royal Borough's lead member for highways Cllr Phill Bicknell acknowledged that a strange situation had arisen where a council run facility - the youth centre - could only be reached through a privately owned road where police and council had no powers to enforce parking controls.
He said: "I am sorry the blood donor session had to be cancelled and have got my officers working on the problem."
He said the area of private road concerned was about 25 yards long and believes it may belong to the adjoining old Hovis building, which has had different owners and has been standing empty for some time.
He hoped that when the current owners were identified it would be possible to work with them to see a proper system of traffic control was introduced and enforced.