A woman who threw a message in a bottle into the North Sea more than 20 years ago has finally been tracked down and arrested after it was discovered in the Netherlands.
Louise Darling, from the village of Harold, was 10 when she threw the note as she went on holiday on a ferry from Hull to Belgium on 12 September 1990.
She thought nothing more of it, until this Christmas, when her house was cordoned off by hundreds of heavily-armoured riot police who dragged her handcuffed from the house under close surveillance from an elite team of army snipers.
Her letter, discovered by an elderly Dutch couple walking on the beach near the port of Vissershaven, had read: “Dear finder, my name is Louise. Please would you write to me, I would like it a lot.
“I am 10 years old and I like ballet, playing the flute and the piano. I have a hamster called Sparkle and a fish called Speckle.”
Ms Darling said she was surprised not just at how far the message had travelled, but also at being arrested under anti-terrorist legislation and detained without charge waiting for rendition to a compliant Eastern-European nation with lax human rights.
Trevor Pearce, Director-General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, issued a statement congratulating officers for their courage and tenacity in an operation which has lasted two decades.
“These are the sort of bastards we’re out to get,” he explained. “Scum like this think they can launch attacks on the fabric of our society, but they won’t get away with it. This bottle could have contained a fast-acting deadly nerve gas rendering the whole North Sea toxic.”
“It didn’t, but it could have done.”