Girl killer jailed for life
A man was jailed for life on Tuesday for sexually assaulting and murdering a 12-year-old girl, before hiding her body in the attic of the home he shared with her grandmother. Stuart Hazell, 37, was told by a judge at London’s Old Bailey that he would serve a minimum of 38 years in prison for the murder of Tia Sharp in August last year. Hazell, who was the boyfriend of Tia’s grandmother, had finally admitted killing the schoolgirl on Monday, the fifth day of his trial, after previously claiming she died by falling down the stairs. Tia’s family were forced to sit through days of gruesome evidence, including a nude picture of the schoolgirl apparently taken after she died. The schoolgirl most likely died from being smothered, the judge said, but her body had decomposed by the time it was found. The court heard that Hazell, a window cleaner and convicted drug dealer, had developed a sexual attraction toward Tia while living with her grandmother for more than five years. He had previously also dated Tia’s mother. Hazell murdered Tia while her grandmother was working a night shift. The schoolgirl’s blood was found on a sex toy in the house and on Hazell’s belt, and his semen was on her sheets, the court heard. He wrapped her body in a sheet of plastic and hid it in the attic.
Couple jailed for exorcisms
An appeals court on Tuesday jailed a couple from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for having performed exorcisms on their daughter, who they considered to be a witch. The couple were both found guilty of aggravated assault. The father, 39, was sentenced to two years, three months behind bars, while his 34-year-old wife, who is the girl’s stepmother and who was judged to be the instigator of the abuse, was handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence. The couple were also ordered to pay the girl damages of 12,000 euros (US$15,500). Her age was not disclosed, but according to the local newspaper Boraas Tidning, she is about 10 and the events took place in 2010. The girl told the court she had been repeatedly targeted in exorcism sessions, had her arm cut with a burning knife to get her to confess her sins and had her head shaved because “the spirit” was in her hair. A second man, aged 40 and who claims to be a pastor, was also given an 15-month jail sentence for assault and ordered to pay the girl 2,300 euros in damages.
Pedophile links investigated
The Green Party is to launch an investigation into its active promotion in the 1980s of pedophile groups who lobbied for the legalization of sex with children. The party’s leadership has said it will commission an independent researcher to investigate “for how long and to what extent” such groups had an influence. The party’s chief whip, Jurgen Trittin, said the initiative aimed to take a close look at the “totally unacceptable demand” in the 1980s that sex with children should be made legal. The inquiry follows a row over the Green Party lawmaker Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s apparent endorsement of sex with children in his 1975 book The Great Bazaar, in which he reported on his alleged sexual interactions with children while working at an anti-authoritarian kindergarten in the 1970s. In the book, he wrote: “My constant flirtations with the children took on erotic characteristics. It happened to me several times that a few children undid my flies and started to stroke me.” The damning passage and a subsequent TV interview came back to haunt Cohn-Bendit when the remarks came to light ahead of an awards ceremony. Several people refused to attend the event.
President not drunk: aides
Was he or wasn’t he? The video footage shows Czech President Milos Zeman clearly worse for wear, propping himself up against a wall at a public event, struggling to negotiate a step and being aided by a cardinal. Zeman makes no secret of his drinking. However, on this occasion — a rare and highly ceremonial public display of the Czech crown jewels last week — his office insisted he simply had a virus and subsequently needed a day or two of rest. Since then, the video has prompted a storm of social media gags. Czechs — by far the biggest beer drinkers in the world per capita — have been posting pictures of themselves in bars getting drunk with slogans like: “Here I am getting a virus,” or “Heading out for a virus.” Zeman, 68, a chain smoker and lover of fatty foods, often extols the virtues of booze. On one occasion, he praised former British prime minister Winston Churchill for his love of whiskey and pointed out that Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler and vegetarian — “and you know how he ende
d up.” During a 1996 election campaign Zeman said his campaign bus “drove on gas and Becherovka,” a popular Czech liquor.
Man fights frost with chopper
With a frost warning in effect in parts of Canada, an Ottawa area farmer reportedly sent a helicopter to hover over his apple orchard overnight on Monday in an unusual effort to save his crop. Temperatures in the Ottawa region fell to minus-2°C at about 3am on Tuesday morning. Phil Lyall of Mountain Apple Orchards, about 60km south of Ottawa, told public broadcaster CBC he paid thousands of dollars to have a helicopter fly all night over his 10,000 trees in order to push rising warm air back down and keep temperatures on the ground above freezing. It was the second time in two years that he had tried it, after hearing that fruit growers in Argentina, New Zealand and elsewhere were doing the same in similar circumstances when their crops were threatened by cold. Last year, he recorded a six-point jump in temperatures in his 10-hectare orchard, from minus-3°C to 3°C. Lyall said his orchard might lose only 10 percent of its apples when temperatures drop to 0°C, but a night at minus-2°C can kill 90 percent of the crop.
Man charged over feast
Authorities have charged a man who officers said had an overnight feast in a closed supermarket outside Louisville. The manager of a ValuMarket says he found 57 empty whipped cream cans in the garbage when he arrived on Monday morning. WAVE-TV in Louisville reported 30-year-old Trevor Runyon was charged after he was found in the ceiling of the store. Surveillance video from the store showed that Runyon cooked and ate six steaks, washed them down with beer and then topped off his meal with shrimp and birthday cake. Police say Runyon slipped into the store and hid while employees closed it for the night.
Officer rescued from tree
Authorities say a New York police officer who tried to rescue a cat stuck in a tree got caught himself and needed a little help getting back down to the ground. The Fire Department of New York says it happened on Monday afternoon in the borough of Queens. A call came in that a man attempting to get a cat out of a tree had gotten stuck. Fire department personnel used a bucket ladder to get the man and the cat down. The fire department said the man is a police officer.