The courts in Wales deal with all sorts of crimes on a daily basis but some of them make you stop and scratch your head.

They include the one involving the man who shone a laser pen at a police helicopter then claimed he thought it was a bird – or maybe a hot air balloon. Or the teenager who robbed a takeaway at knifepoint demanding free chips. Or the woman who started growing cannabis to treat her brother's poorly dog.

These are some of the bizarre cases that have come before Wales' courts in the last 12 months.

The burglar who spent a week living in his victims' home

Glebs Zaicevs
Glebs Zaicevs

A burglar broke into a couple's home while they were away on holiday and treated the property as his own.

Glebs Zaicevs ate food from their fridge, slept in their bed, and used their car to drive around town.

When the homeowners returned from their trip they caught the 29-year-old red-handed in their Swansea house whereupon he removed his jacket from their wardrobe, said "this is embarrassing", and left.

He was arrested a month later after police were called to deal with a shoplifter at a nearby Co-op shop who had stolen a bag of nuts and some tealight candles. When searched he was found to be in possession of flick knife and a small quantity of amphetamine.

Zaicevs, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to 36 weeks in prison.

Read the whole story here.

The man desperate to avoid a speeding ticket

Robert Shepherd went to extraordinary lengths to avoid a speeding ticket and ended up in the dock of a crown court
Robert Shepherd went to extraordinary lengths to avoid a speeding ticket and ended up in the dock of a crown court

A businessman went to extraordinary lengths to avoid a speeding ticket including creating a fake driver living in a dead man's house. Thai restaurant owner Robert Shepherd lied about his movements, altered the look of his number plates, and then had the audacity to claim to police he was the victim of cloning by crooks. He even tried to rope his wife and neighbour into his web of lies.

As part of his attempts to dodge three points on the licence he claimed he had loaned his BMW to a man called Paul Mason, whom he said he called Stan, and gave the address of the imaginary person as a house belonging to a neighbour who he knew had recently died. But a lengthy and costly police investigation involving analysis of mobile phone location data and the use of automatic number plate recognition cameras revealed the truth.

A judge told Shepherd his actions beggared belief and were confirmation that he could be a "deceitful liar".

Robert George Shepherd, of Sycamore Crescent, Baglan, Port Talbot was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for 12 months, was made the subject of nightly curfew for three months, and was disqualified from driving for a year. He must also pay £800 toward the cost of his prosecution.

Read the full story here.

The dopey dealer who reported his drug-filled car stolen

Mohammed Rahman
Mohammed Rahman

Drug dealer Mohammed Rahman unwittingly drew attention to his criminal behaviour when he reported his Volkswagen Golf had been stolen. Officers found the missing VW – and the £4,000 worth of cocaine hidden inside.

The defendant's barrister described the 24-year-old as a "naive" young man who was dealing to fund his own habit.

Rahman, of Richards Terrace, Roath, Cardiff, was sentenced to a total of two years and four months imprisonment.

Read the full story here.

The man who told police he cocaine 'under his balls'

Liam Foster-Richards
Liam Foster-Richards

A man in a BMW stopped by police in a Carmarthen car park made an unusual admission to officers.

Liam Foster-Richards told them he had a stash of cocaine "under his balls" but he insisted it was for his own personal use. However text messages subsequently found on the the defendant's phone – including one sent just minutes before police pulled him over – showed he was heavily involved in drug dealing.

Foster-Richards, of Green Park, Cynwyl Elfed, Carmarthen, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Read the full story here.

The woman who started growing cannabis to treat her brother's poorly dog

A Ceredigion woman wanted to grow cannabis to give the drug to her brother's sick dog.

Would-be cultivator Bethan Robison was put in touch with a man with the know-how to help and together they established a small growing operation in her spare bedroom. After two unsuccessful harvests the plan came good at the third attempt but the novice gardener apparently got cold feet and dumped the crop – prompting a series of threats from her associate. It was when she reported these threats to the police that the scheme unravelled.

The 40-year-old later told police she had embarked on the enterprise because her brother's dog was unwell and she wanted to treat it with THC from the drug – an explanation the judge described as "one of the the most bizarre reasons I have every heard".

Robinson, of Tregaron, was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years and ordered her to complete a rehabilitation course. Her co-accused, Christopher Rowlands of Spring Gardens, Trefechan, Aberystwyth, was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for two years with 180 hours of unpaid work.

The court was not told about the health of the dog.

Read the full story here.

The man who shone a laser pen at a police helicopter

William Fellowes said he thought the police helicopter may have been a bird or a hot air balloon
William Fellowes said he thought the police helicopter may have been a bird or a hot air balloon

Dad William Fellowes shone a laser pen at a police helicopter which was involved in a nighttime search for a missing vulnerable teenager in Swansea. The attack left the pilot of the chopper temporarily dazzled and disorientated and forced him to abandon the search mission for safety reasons.

However the crew was able to locate the source of the laser light as coming from a person in the garden of house and ground units were dispatched to the address.

The 29-year-old later told police during his interview he had been practising pointing at stars with the laser pen and that the pilot was a "d***head" for getting in his way. He also claimed he didn't know it was a police helicopter and thought it may have been a bird, a satellite, or a hot air balloon.

Fellowes, of Pentregethin Road, Portmead, Swansea was sentenced to 30 weeks in prison.

Read the full story here.

The armed robber who demanded free chips from his local takeaway

A teenager held up his local takeaway with a kitchen knife and demanded free chips – continuing to demand his portion even as armed police arrested him.

Matthew Hawkins spent 15 minutes banging the knife on the counter of the kebab shop and shouting at staff he would "cut" them if they didn't hand over the fries quickly. He then went to the shop next door and tried – and failed – to steal items.

Armed police were soon on the scene and arrested him. The 19-year-old continued his demand for chips shouting: "Give me my f***ing chips."

His barrister, Hywel Davies, said Hawkins struggled to understand the consequences of actions and he accepted he had to get his consumption of alcohol under control. He said a pre-sentence report had identified a need to work on the defendant's problem-solving skills and anger management.

Hawkins, of Blaen Cefn, Winch Wen, Swansea, was sentenced to a total of three years in a young offenders institution.

Read the full story here.

The man who torched his grandfather's car and was caught thanks to his singed eyebrows

Haydn Davies
Haydn Davies

Haydn Davies set fire to his step-grandfather's Ford Focus in Newport following an argument between the two men. The arson attack was witnessed by a neighbours who alerted the police. The defendant was arrested and questioned and denied being responsible. Then the officers noticed his singed eyebrows and lashes.

Davies, aged 28, of Oxfordshire Close, Newport, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison.

Read the full story here.

The cannabis dealer whose Facebook page gave him away

Police carrying out a search on a suspected drug dealer's house saw messages from customers popping up on his Facebook page – including ones warning him to be careful because there were cops in the area.

Plain-clothes police officers swooped on Simon Fowler and Anthony Murphy's car in the middle of Swansea and found they were involved in a "profitable enterprise" selling a range of varieties of cannabis including Blue Cheese, Skittles, and Super Dawg in Swansea. Murphy, aged 61, was running the operation, giving instructions to his younger business partner including which customers should have which strain of weed.

When police searched Murphy's home they found a laptop was switched on and was open at his Facebook page and as police looked at the screen messages from customers about supplying cannabis were popping up. Further messages then started appearing warning Murphy that there were police in the street and he should be careful.

Murphy, of Eagles Place, Bonymaen, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months, was fined £1,000, and was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course. Fowler, also of Eagles Place, Bonymaen, was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months, was fined £1,000, and was ordered to complete an alcohol treatment course.

Read the full story here.

Get the latest crime stats for your area:

The bungling burglar who fell asleep at the scene

Violent burglar Ian Curtis, 48, used a hammer to knock his victim unconscious after smashing his way into the property in Pontypridd.

But his victim managed to raise the alarm with neighbours and police arrived only to find Curtis fast asleep in a chair.

He was jailed for 11 years and eight months after admitting aggravated burglary.

Read the whole story here.

The 'conspiracy theorist' behind Novichok hoax at Welsh castle

John ap Evans arriving at Swansea Crown Court
John ap Evans arriving at Swansea Crown Court

Former teacher John ap Evans placed bottles labelled 'Novichok' in Pembroke Castle in the weeks following the poisoning of a former Russian military officer, his daughter, and a policeman in Salisbury.

In the aftermath of the Salisbury attack ap Evans carried out internet searches about the "truth" of the incident then placed a bottle of liquid marked 'Novichok' in a cave under the town centre castle – prompting a major chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response from the authorities.

He followed that up with a series of four more attacks, placing further milk bottles marked 'Novichok', 'deadly virus', and 'nerve agent' in the same spot. The 67-year-old was caught after a secret CCTV camera was installed at the castle.

He would later tell police the substance in the bottles was ketchup and brown sauce mixed with water and went on to say he believed the nerve agent attack in the English city had been "a lot of lies". He then claimed the incidents at the castle were part of a potential entry for the prestigious Turner modern art prize.

Judge Paul Thomas QC said while ap Evans was clearly an academically clever man he was also "incredibly stupid and foolish" and a "conspiracy theorist" with delusional beliefs and distorted thinking.

Ap Evans, of Northgate Street, Pembroke, was sentenced to 21 months in prison suspended for two years. He was ordered to complete a rehabilitation course and 200 hours of unpaid work and must pay Pembroke Castle £2,400 in lost income from having to close.

Read the story in full here.

The burglar who stole ornamental zebras

A burglar broke into a house which was being renovated and stole three zebra ornaments and a dog crate. But Matthew Griffiths hadn't counted on the new CCTV system recently installed in the property which not only captured him coming out of the address with the unusual booty but also loading them into his car and driving off.

The 34-year-old subsequently told police who came knocking on his door that he had used the stolen dog crate to catch snakes and newts – though officers could not find evidence to back up that claim.

Griffiths, of Oban Street, Barry, was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work and a three-month nightly curfew and was ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs.

The whereabouts of the ornamental zebras remains unknown.

Read the full story here.