Bovine Free State Times

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Car Thief Says Policeman Put Life in Danger.

AUCKLAND - A man whose attempt at car theft was foiled by policeman Grant McCullough says that the policeman's actions put his life in danger.

Fili Hoffmann, 36, whose rap sheet includes 143 previous convictions including car theft and fraud, was arrested by Constable McCullough yesterday while attempting to break into a Hilux parked in central Auckland.

McCullough says that when he first apprehended the thief, Hoffmann dropped the bag of KFC he was holding and ran into the traffic, forcing vehicles to brake suddenly to avoid hitting him. McCullough followed Hoffmann as he ran through a nearby park and arrested him when he slipped in a muddy puddle and fell into some bushes.

But Hoffmann claims that McCullough's actions put his life in danger.

"When he put his hand on my shoulder it gave me such a fright that I dropped my KFC. It made me run straight into the traffic. I could have been hurt or even killed."

Hoffmann's lawyer, Eddie Firth, said that his client would enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. "Mr. Hoffmann would not have run into the traffic, nor dropped his KFC, causing it to become spoiled upon contact with the ground, if not for Constable McCullough's deliberate and sadistic attempt to scare him. Therefore my client is innocent, as Constable McCullough was reponsible for my client's panic."

Firth is considering making a complaint to the Police on behalf of Hoffmann, claiming that "McCullough's over-eager actions, probably carried out with the intent of scoring Brownie points towards an possible promotion, risked the life of my client. McCullough should have stepped back and asked himself which was more important: his looking good in the eyes of his superiors or the life of an innocent KFC enthusiast."

But McCullough says he can't see the relevance of Hoffmann's claim, considering the attempted car theft was in progress by the time the suspect was apprehended.

The case is due to come before Justice Hammerford on June 12.

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