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Alarms found in ex-girlfriend's house court told.

Byline: Lynda Roughley

A FIREMEN who allegedly stole 32 smoke alarms was caught out when his "vindictive" ex-girlfriend rang his fire station, a court heard yesterday.

The detectors were provided by Merseyside Fire Brigade as part of an initiative to make homes safer and each fire station supplied and fitted them free of charge.

The stations included Speke, were Chi Lam was based and all the firemen were given training and guidance in installing the devices and knew they were not allowed to be taken out of Merseyside, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

Gerald Jones, prosecuting, said a senior fire officer received a call from Lam's former girlfriend Michelle Pearson last September.

Two officers went to her home in Hull the next day and found 32 smoke alarms taken from the station. They were still in their packaging and 18 of them were also still in three boxes. The officers also recovered a glue applicator and two large cartridges of glue used by the brigade to fit them.

Mr Jones said: "The prosecution's case is the defendant, while employed in the fire service, dishonestly took these alarms and at some time during his relationship with his ex-girlfriend took them to her home in Hull with the intention of disposing of them.

"He wasn't entitled to take them to dispose of as he wished and therefore was in effect stealing."

When interviewed Lam, who has since resigned from the brigade, admitted taking them in "dribs and drabs" in the boot of his car to Miss Pearson's home with the intention of them being used in the homes of her friends and family.

He believed they were being taken from her home and not just being stored there and said Hull Fire Brigade also gave away free smoke alarms.

Mr Jones said: "Lam said his exgirlfriend in making a complaint to Merseyside Fire Brigade was being vindictive and trying to get him to lose his job. He did not intend to sell them on and did not think it was dishonest or wrong to take them."

Lam, 32, of Penny Lane, Mossley Hill, Liverpool, has pleaded not guilty to theft.

Lam, who now works as a driver, told the jury he had taken the alarms to his former girlfriend's home for use by her friends and relatives and not to sell them.

He told his barrister, Simon Berkson, they had split up three times and she had sent text messages on his mobile phone saying she was going to tell his friends and employers unless he got back with her.

He refused and out of vindictiveness she told his boss about the smoke alarms being at her home, the court heard.

He said he believed all but six of the 32 had been distributed by her to her friends and family and unknown to him she had either stored them in the loft or got them back and put them in the kitchen where the fire brigade officers found them.

Cross-examined by Mr Jones, he maintained he had not been dishonest and had no intention of selling them. He denied knowing it had been against the brigade's rules to take them out of Merseyside.

The trial continues.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 5, 2002
Words:535
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