Trawling the internet for the weirdest news stories I can find, again it seems that criminals provide the most entertainment value. I came across two cases this month of people who took multi-tasking to whole new levels. We’ve all heard of arrests for driving whilst using a phone, but Rachel Curtis, a 23-year old from Bristol, managed to drive – at high speed, being chased by the police, no less – while shooting up (The Times, October ‘09). She is only narrowly beaten by the man from Alabama who was arrested, also following a high speed chase, during which he had been cooking methamphetamine on the front seat of his car (Birmingham News, December ‘09).

A young man from Florida named Shane Williams-Allen wasn’t quite so hard to catch; in fact, he saved the police the trouble. After breaking into a police car he stole several items, including a Taser gun and handcuffs. A short while later he called the police himself for help, having accidentally cuffed himself. He had also, apparently, felt the need to Taser himself into submission (Orlando Sentinel, January ‘10).

Oddly enough, God has been intervening in Texas-based crimes recently. Another man gave himself up without a fight; not due to incompetence but strong religious conviction (which hadn’t, apparently, stopped him committing his original violent crime). A Houston police officer who happens to wear badge number 666 recounted how as he approached the defiant, dangerous and violent criminal, the man dropped to his knees and surrendered, saying “I ain’t fighting the devil” (Houston Chronicle, December ‘09). In another incident, God stepped in to empower the victims. A masked man had burst into a store brandishing a gun and was about to wreak havoc when the owner, Marian Chadwick, pointed her finger at him and said: “In the name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the Holy Spirit.” According to witnesses, the man appeared stunned, then turned and walked out empty-handed, swearing to himself (Dallas Morning News, January ’10).

Closer to home, a 50-year old man named Stephen Gough is engaging in non-violent activities which nonetheless have got him on the wrong side of the law. Unless someone can convince him to put on his clothes he runs the risk of life imprisonment, according to the ruling of Perth Sheriff Court (Metro, February ’10). The former Royal Marine, quite well known as ‘The Naked Rambler’, achieved small fame in 2003-4 for walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats wearing nothing but boots and a rucksack. He has been in and out of prison for the last 7 years due to his dislike of clothing, and also for contempt of court because (of course) he appeared naked at his own trial.

Lucy Hayes

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