The early bird catches the thief.

A parrot helped to catch a serial burglar after raising the alarm during a nighttime break-in.

Jake Fletcher, 24, was jailed for two years after Charlie, an orange-winged Amazon parrot, scuppered his raid on three houses on the same street. A court was told that the alarm was raised when Fletcher broke into the final house. He was met in the living room by Charlie, who started squawking loudly. The bird’s owner, Emma Dazeley, 41, was woken by the racket and came downstairs to investigate.

Matthew Roberts, for the prosecution, told the court: “She saw the defendant hiding behind the door and confronted him. He pushed past her and ran out of the back door. The complainant grabbed hold of a rucksack the defendant had and told him he was not taking her daughter’s bag with him. This caused the bag to rip. He fled and she pursued him. He tried to scale a fence but she tried to pull him down.”

Jake Fletcher was met in the living room by Charlie, who started squawking loudly.

Cardiff crown court was told that Fletcher dropped the rucksack along with video games, a bottle of prosecco and a bottle of gin before running off. Ms Dazeley was hailed by the judge and given a £500 (around $630) reward, since her actions led to Fletcher’s arrest.

Fletcher, of Newport, south Wales, pleaded guilty to the three burglaries in Monmouth, south Wales, on June 20 last year. Suzanne Payne, in mitigation, said that he believed his drink had been spiked that night. Judge Richard Williams jailed him for two years and praised Ms Dazeley for her bravery. He said: “The victim showed considerable determination and courage. She is commended for her actions and will receive a £500 award.”

Ms Dazeley said yesterday that she was heartbroken that she could not share her reward with her pet parrot. Charlie flew off six weeks ago and has failed to return. She said that she would have used some of the money to buy him cuttlefish, his favourite treat.

A Birman cat and a Shetland sheepdog score prime seating on the back of an American Shetland pony.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi with his game face on.

In a flat on Manhattan’s Lower East Side yesterday, a nine-year-old boy stepped away briefly from an online chess game to field a question about his career. “I want to be a grandmaster by the age of 11 or 12,” said Tanitoluwa Adewumi, the youngest child of a family of refugees who fled Nigeria three years ago after they were targeted by the jihadist group Boko Haram.

Landing in New York City three years ago, Tanitoluwa began learning to play chess. Last year he won the New York State chess championship in his age division, lugging the trophy to the homeless shelter in Manhattan where the family were living at the time. The child refugee had triumphed over children from New York’s most elite private schools, players with lengthy records and private tutors.

Tanitoluwa (second from left) and his family in their New York home.

Since then the family have found a home, a memoir telling their story was published last month and the studio Paramount and the comedian Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, have announced plans to shoot a film. Tanitoluwa’s chess ranking continues to improve at a remarkable rate. He is now ranked third among players his age and is on track for first place. “I want to be the youngest grandmaster in the world,” he said yesterday. Neither of his parents know how to play chess, his father Kayode said. “He was introduced to it at his school,” said Mr Adewumi, 43. “He dedicated his time to it.”

“I want to be a grandmaster by the age of 11 or 12.”

In Nigeria, Mr Adewumi had a printing company. In December of 2016 four men arrived at his shop in Abuja and handed him a thumb drive, asking him to print 25,000 copies of the poster it contained. When he opened the drive, the poster was a message from Boko Haram, declaring “No to western education” and “Kill all Christians”. Mr Adewumi, a Christian, told the men his printers had broken. They did not appear to believe him: in the weeks that followed, while he was away on business, men with guns showed up at his house and threatened his wife, Oluwatoyin. As the threats escalated, the family fled to the United States in 2017.

A new book tells the story of Tanitoluwa and his family.

In New York they stayed at a shelter in Lower Manhattan and Tanitoluwa enrolled in a local primary school, which had a chess club. Shawn Martinez, who taught there and became Tanitoluwa’s coach, said he was struck by how fast the boy picked it up. “He has an incredible memory and he’s very interested in what he’s learning,” he said. Craig Borlase, a British writer who worked on the memoir, My Name Is Tani … and I Believe in Miracles, said the family had “come from a background of some privilege in Nigeria”. In America, Mr Adewumi worked nights as a cleaner in the Bronx for $6 an hour. He worked “washing dishes, cleaning houses, he was an Uber driver, approaching it with a real dignity and determination,” he said. Mr Adewumi is now an estate agent, while his wife is a home healthcare aide.

Their son is fast turning into a famous chess champion. “He plays competitive chess which is highly pressured,” Mr Borlase said. “He once said to me: ‘You never really lose. If you lose then you learn and if you learn then you win.’ About two minutes later he says ‘pull my finger’ and makes a fart joke. So he’s a really normal but wise kid.” Yesterday the prodigy said the coronavirus pandemic might make it harder to rack up victories. “But I know the pandemic is going to go,” he said. Then he gave a whoop and had to break off the interview to return to his computer. His father apologised. “There’s a competitive game that he’s playing right now,” he said.