Friday 13 May 2011 by Gary Stanton

Met Police admit frustration as haystack hampers needle investigation


Detectives involved in the search for a needle that went missing four years ago in a nearby haystack admitted last night they were in for the long haul.

The needle was dropped into the haystack in 2007 by careless farmhand Jake Topliss after he tried unsuccessfully to sew a button on a shirt, and has been missing ever since.

The luckless worker has since told of his heartache at having to walk around his village of Great Mellow with a partially unbuttoned shirt , leaving him open to ridicule from passers-by, many of whom wear shirts boasting a full array of buttons.

Meanwhile, Topliss, 24, is angry with police and claims they botched the early stages of the investigation, insisting they missed vital clues when the needle was probably quite high up in the pile and would have been easier to find.

Police to continue needle hunt

DS Mervin Phelps of Scotland Yard said, “The difficulty lies with the relative sizes of the objects and the fact that a needle closely resembles a piece of hay in that it is long and thin and quite pointy.”

“And in that particular barn at least there are a lot of bales of hay comprising a formidable haystack.”

“The other thing to bear in mind is that the needle disappeared some years ago and will no longer resemble the shiny, pointy device that Topliss used on his shirt. It will have aged, may have rusted slightly, and become less sharp.”

“You know, it would probably be better for needle safety everywhere if Topliss came out and admitted he was careless when doing the sewing.”

“Or that he should never have taken his eye off the needle – though he still seems to believe a lot of people do it like that when they are sewing – but I guess we’ll just keep looking as everyone feels so sorry for him.”

Undaunted, Topliss has considered writing a book about his experiences but admitted that as a particularly unattractive farmworker it’s unlikely anyone would buy it.

The Met will in the meantime order a review of the evidence to-date.

“Honestly we’ve done our best ,” insisted Phelps, “But it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

“Did you see what I did there?”

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