QUIRKY WORLD ... Smuggler had 51 turtles strapped to his legs

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CANADA: A Canadian man who repeatedly entered Michigan to buy and ship thousands of turtles to his native China only to be caught with 51 of them strapped to his legs was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for smuggling.

It was a tough punishment for Kai Xu, who has been locked up for 19 months since his arrest and had hoped to be released. The 27-year-old expressed remorse to a judge and thanked agents “for stopping the darkness of my greed and ignorance”.

Ahead of the hearing, Xu wrote a letter to US district judge John Corbett O’Meara, saying he sold turtles partly to make money for college. He said he was a semester short of an engineering degree.

The government said Xu shipped turtles to China from Canada and the US, or hired people to fly with turtles in their luggage to China, where they are coveted as pets. He was apprehended with 51 of them on his legs at the Ontario, Canada, border in 2014.

It’s not illegal to buy turtles from breeders in the US, but Xu’s crime was shipping them overseas without a federal permit.

Xu was not a “sophisticated international dealer”, defence attorney Matthew Borgula told the judge, adding that hiding turtles under his pants was “not a good way to get them across the border”.

Assistant US attorney Sara Woodward said Xu’s remorse was genuine, but described his smuggling scheme as one of the largest in recent years.

Woodward asked for five years in prison, near the low end of the sentencing guidelines. O’Meara could have gone lower than the guidelines, but settled on 57 months without an explanation, though he praised Xu for becoming fluent in Spanish while in prison and helping Hispanic inmates.

The guidelines were enhanced by the value of the reptiles as estimated by the government. Prosecutors said shipments intercepted at airports were worth more than $1m (€890,000).

Borgula objected to the government’s conclusion and asked that O’Meara hear testimony. The judge declined, saying he was pressed for time. An appeal is planned.

Corpse robber

USA:

Police have arrested a woman suspected of stealing a ring from a corpse at a Texas funeral home in an incident captured on surveillance video.

Odessa police arrested 41-year-old Kalynn Homfeld on a charge of theft from a human corpse.

Police have said the ring stolen was worth about $10.

Investigators did not immediately say what led them to Homfeld or whether the ring was recovered.

Police released security video of a woman seen entering a viewing room at Sunset Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home, reaching into an open casket and fumbling to remove something from the female corpse.

One small sleep for man

ENGLAND:

The most popular dreams British children have are of being an astronaut, a footballer, a celebrity, a singer, or an internet tycoon, according to research.

The sleep study, conducted by Travelodge, surveyed 1,500 children aged between eight and 15.

Researchers found that on average children remember dreaming two to three times during the week, and get an average of eight hours sleep per night — less than the NHS recommendation.

Puddings prevail

ENGLAND:

Yorkshire puddings have come top in a nationwide search to find the UK’s best regional dish.

A study by the Gourmet Society found that Yorkshire puddings beat Cornish pasties into second place, ahead of Devon cream teas, Bakewell tart, and Cheddar cheese. Despite haggis being the most well-known regional dish, with 73% having heard of it, it is not very popular — 15% of those quizzed voted it their least favourite.

Porcupine pilferer

USA:

Maine police are on the lookout for a prickly piece of art.

Officials said a porcupine sculpture was recently stolen from the grounds of the Portland International Jetport. It is one of 10 individual animal sculptures that are part of a work called Glimpse by artist Wendy Klemperer. The metal animals are the first thing travellers see when arriving at the airport.

The porcupine that was stolen is nearly 3ft (1m) long and is made from steel and recycled nails.

Hamburglar

USA:

A man got hungry while he was robbing a District of Columbia hamburger restaurant and began cooking himself some food, authorities said.

The Metropolitan Police Department said that security footage shows the suspect putting food on the grill after breaking into a Five Guys restaurant.

The video appears to show the man cooking two cheeseburgers while talking on a mobile phone. Officer Sean Hickman said the man sneaked inside the restaurant after a delivery person left, and eventually stole a bottle of water. Authorities said the incident is being investigated as a burglary.

A $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.


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