Top of the class: Child prodigy who is about to take his maths A-Level... at the age of TEN

At the age of ten Yi Fan has already passed GCSE and AS maths exams with flying colours and is about to sit his A-level.

So although he's half the age of most degree-level maths students, his primary school had no choice but to draft in a university professor to keep up with him.

And while his parents are naturally proud of his prodigious talent, they are already wondering whether secondary school education will hold him back.

'Yi began talking about fractions when he was just three,' said his father Mizi Fan, 46, a senior lecturer in civil engineering at Brunel University in West London. 'His teachers realised in Year One that the curriculum was just not challenging for him.

'Now I find it very difficult to keep him challenged. I don't know where he will go to school because I think a normal secondary school would be a waste of time for him.'

Yi's mother Aihe, 45, a housewife with a degree in engineering, said: 'He has always been eager to learn and very inquisitive. We have never had to push him.'

Yi, whose parents met at university in China before they moved to Britain 16 years ago, beat more than 100,000 children to win a national primary school maths competition last year.

The schoolboy, from Watford, is currently ranked among the top 100 Year Nine pupils in the country, even though they are three years older than him. He gained top grades in his maths GCSE and AS-level and will take the A-level next month.

He also excels in English and physics, is preparing for his grade seven piano test and has just started to learn the oboe. With so many opportunities open to him, Yi - whose elder brother Xin, 16, achieved 11 A*s in his GCSEs this year - remains unsure what he will focus on in the future.

'I haven't really decided what I want to do when I grow up,' he said. 'I just want to carry on learning as much as I can. I am not so good at football and am not in the school team. I will keep working at it but you can't be good at everything.'

Kevin Sullivan, deputy head of Knutsford School in Watford, said he had never seen a student like Yi in a career spanning 35 years.

'Yi's needs can be met for most subjects, though we have had to think hard to find maths work to challenge his ability,' he said.

'We purchased a maths computer program which would challenge an able child for years but Yi finished it in a couple of sessions.'

Mr Sullivan got in contact with Alan Davies, a professor of mathematics-from Hertfordshire University who specialises in helping exceptionally gifted children.

He now provides Yi with regular tuition tailored to his talents. 'I am impressed by Yi,' he said. 'I haven't found anything that has given him difficulty.

'He is easy to work with because he is able to follow a mathematical argument without too much difficulty. He also sees different ways of approaching ideas.'

Drug smuggler who swallowed 67 packages of cocaine

A drug smuggler swallowed 67 packages of cocaine in an attempt to get through British customs.

Student Fidelis Ozouli, 30, risked his life trying to hide the 1kg haul of the class A substance in his stomach.

He later claimed he did not know the packets contained drugs.

Officers at Manchester Airport became suspicious because Ozouli looked unnaturally bloated.

They carried out X-rays on his stomach and discovered a quantity of cocaine equivalent to two bags of sugar.

It is one of the largest amounts ever found internally by UK customs officers.

The drug, hidden inside scores of condoms, was 78 per cent pure and had a street value of £250,000.

Ozouli left officials and a court baffled by claiming: 'I didn't know they were drugs.'

He added: 'I just did not know what they were. I thought I was swallowing something else to take into Britain as a favour for a pal.'

At Manchester Crown Court, Ozouli, who is from Nigeria but lives and studies in London, pleaded guilty to importing class A drugs and was jailed for ten years - but continued to deny knowing what the haul was.

Judge Thomas Gilbart QC told him: 'I do not accept your evidence and do not believe it is credible.

'The story is fantastical and I don't believe a word of it.

'This was a calculated decision on your part to solve your money worries.'

Ozouli, of Kennington, South London, was stopped by UK Border Agency officers on his arrival at Manchester from Switzerland on September 5.

He claimed he was on a business trip from Zurich on behalf of a pharmaceuticals company but inquiries revealed he had taken a lengthy and unusual route back to the UK from countries in Africa.

He was arrested and the case was passed to customs officers who interviewed him. Later he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was X-rayed to ensure all the packages had been recovered.

Mike O'Grady, assistant director of criminal investigation for Revenue and Customs said yesterday: 'Forensic tests showed that the purity of this cocaine is significantly above what we would normally find.

'Swallowing any drugs puts the courier at risk, but with purity levels this high he was putting himself at considerable risk of death.

'Criminals dealing in drugs with high purity levels are thinking solely of increased profits, to further fund their illegal activity.

Mr O'Grady added: 'They show utter disregard for the damage drugs do to individuals and communities.

'Customs is working closely with our partners in the UK Border Agency, police and other law enforcement agencies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency to protect the public from the significant and damaging effect drugs have on our communities.'

The biggest ever recorded haul of cocaine found in a smuggler's stomach in Britain was 1.5kg found inside 39 packages in 2003.

'Shrek' raider told by police he should never have become an armed robber... because he's so ugly everybody would recognise him

A big-eared bank raider nicknamed Shrek was jailed yesterday after being warned he is too ugly for armed robbery.

David Holyoak, 33, is such a dead ringer for the cartoon ogre that his distinctive features make it easy for police to spot him.

He was caught after a string of raids across Greater Manchester and Lancashire.

As Holyoak, of Whitefield, Greater Manchester began three-and-a-half years in jail one police officer said: 'This man only needs to look at himself in the mirror to realise armed robbery is not for him.

'With his big ears and rotund features he stands out a mile and the officers would have no trouble spotting him. He must be a total liability when he is part of a gang.

'He has already been dubbed Shrek and must be one of the ugliest robbers in the country.'

Holyoak was part of a gang who robbed a Halifax bank in Longridge near Preston in Lancashire and threatened the cashier with a sledge hammer.

The gang smashed the glass security window, before climbing through to the other side of the counter to steal cash from the tills.

The men then fled the scene in a Fiat Punto with £6,000.

A gang, including Holyoak, struck again at a post office in Bury, but their get-away car crashed into a tree.

At Bolton Crown Court, Holyoak, Lee Kirwan, 28, of Whitefield, Benjamin Anderson, 29, of Lower Broughton, Salford and Michael Lee Parr, 22, of Whitefield all pleaded guilty to robbery.

Parr, who also admitted a 70,000 raid at a jewellers was jailed for eight-and-a-half years, Anderson got five-and-a-half years and Kirwan was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

The girl who sneezes 12,000 times a day

Lauren Johnson is a typical 12-year-old girl - except that she can't stop sneezing.

It is so bad that she sneezes up to 20 times a minute, or 12,000 times a day.

The non-stop sneezing began two weeks ago when Lauren from Virginia in the U.S. caught a cold.

Lauren can't go to school and is even struggling to eat.

The only relief she gets is when she falls asleep each night. Her condition has left doctors baffled.

During a five-minute interview on the Today Show in the U.S. Lauren sneezed hundreds of times, her speech interrupted every few seconds.

The 12-year-old - dubbed the 'Gesundheit Girl' said: 'I can't stop.

'I thought it wouldn't last this long but it's been two weeks now.'

She said she is not in pain - simply in discomfort.

'It's primarily the sneezing,' she added.

'Maybe I'll get a raw nose from the tissues but that's it.'

One expert believes she is suffering from a syndrome known as 'machine gun sneezing', in which victims sneeze incessantly.

Lauren told the Today Show that she felt 'miserable'.

'It's been a long two weeks. I've seen my friends here and there but I haven't been to school.'

Her mother, Lynn Johnson, has spent the past week going to a variety of doctors looking for a diagnosis and relief for her daughter - and has now gone on television in a bid to find a cure or a specialist who can help.

They have tried 11 different medications so far.

'Life for her has stopped. Everybody is baffled. Nobody really knows how to treat it,' Ms Johnson said.

She added: 'It turns off when she sleeps. Only in a deep REM sleep it turns off.'

They tried hypnosis but it did not work.

Lauren has also seen a therapist in case a psychological factor is triggering the physical reaction.

She has been unable to go to school because it puts other students off - and she struggles to eat between sneezes.

Lauren told a local news website: 'The hard part is missing school and when people stare.

'It's very hard.'

Doctors believe it may be that she is suffering from an 'irretractable psychogenic disorder' that could be triggered by stress.

Her mother added: 'There's less than 40 cases ever documented ever in the entire world. Nobody really knows how to treat it, what's going to work, and even in the cases where it might have worked or turned the sneezing off for awhile, a lot of times it comes back again and then you're right back to where you started.'

Neither Lauren nor her mother say she is stressed out.

Her sneezing is not contagious.

World's smallest mother to risk giving birth for third time

The world’s smallest mother is about to give birth for the third time - despite warnings she is risking her life.

Stacey Herald, who is just 2ft 4in tall, was told that becoming pregnant could kill her, but bravely defied doctors to have two babies half her height.

The 35-year-old from Dry Ridge, Kentucky in the U.S. suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which causes brittle bones and underdeveloped lungs, and means she failed to grow.

Now Mrs Herald, who uses a wheelchair, and her husband Will, who is 5ft 9in, are eagerly awaiting the birth of their third baby, due in the next four weeks.

Currently as wide as she is tall, she cannot hold her daughter because her belly gets in the way, and has to rely on her husband to do most things around the house.

She admits being pregnant is ‘uncomfortable’ and leaves her bedridden for weeks on end.

By the time the new addition, a boy, is one he will already tower over his mother.

But despite all the obstacles, the mother and father, a trainee priest, say they want even more children.

The couple met in 2000 while working for a supermarket in their home town and were desperate for a family after marrying in 2004.

But doctors warned Mrs Herald a baby would grow so large inside her tiny body it would eventually crush her organs, strangling her from the inside out.

Mrs Herald said: ‘It broke my heart that I couldn’t have kids.

‘All my life my parents had told me that I could do anything. Then there were these doctors telling me that we couldn’t be a complete family. It really hurt.’

Eight months later, the couple were thrilled when they discovered they were expecting and decided to go ahead even though family and doctors begged them to reconsider.

Mrs Herald, who had decided not to take contraception, said: ‘They all told me that I would die. They begged me not to have a baby.

'Even my mother said,” You know you won’t survive right?” ‘I told her: “It’s a miracle that I am here, that I have life, why couldn’t this be a miracle too?”’

After 28 weeks, doctors performed a cesarean section and daughter Kateri was born, weighing just 2lbs and 1oz in 2006.

She grew well but there was heartbreak for the family when they discovered Kateri had inherited Mrs Herald’s condition and would also never grow to a normal height.

But the young family resumed life as normal, before Mrs Herald fell pregnant a year later.

She said: ‘It was kind of like the last time, everyone screamed: “What are you doing?” at us.

‘The doctors told me I was pushing my luck. But we just prayed that God would bring us through it.’ However this pregnancy took its toll on the little mother.

She said: ‘It was hard, I got so much bigger faster. At my worst point I remember bursting into tears, because I looked like a beach ball with a head and little feet.

‘I spent weeks unable to do anything for myself because my stomach was so big. At one point I dislocated my arm when I was moving from my chair into bed, because I just wasn’t used to the weight on my arms.

‘I’ve always been able to do everything but this time I just couldn’t and I found that really upsetting to have Will help me wash and go to the toilet.

‘Also he was trying to look after a 16-month old, so it was tough on both of us.’

Doctors tried to let the second baby stay in her body for as long as possible, letting her pregnancy go to 34 weeks before wheeling her into theatre.

Daughter Makaya who, at 18 inches was more than half her mother’s body length when she was born, weighed 4lbs and 7oz.

Now both girls are bigger than their mother who is 30 weeks pregnant with her first boy.

She said: ‘It’s getting tougher and tougher to move.

‘At the moment because I’m getting really big again I can’t hold my youngest daughter because my belly gets in the way and I can’t get my arms around her.’

Mrs Herald added: ‘All my babies are miracles, but we haven’t thought about if we’re going to have some more, as they”re a real handful right now.

‘We didn’t plan to have more than two kids, we just think that they’re a great gift to the world, and when I look at them I see Will and I feel so full of love, it’s tough not to want more.’

Qantas pilots forget to lower the wheels in botched landing at Sydney airport

Two Qantas pilots have been suspended after a Boeing 767 came within 700ft of landing at Sydney airport before they realised the wheels had not been lowered.

The airline has launched an investigation into the incident and the pilots are due to be interviewed by air safety investigators on Friday.

The flight from Melbourne was forced to do a second lap above the airport on October 26 after a cockpit alarm went off as the Boeing prepared to touch down, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.

Investigators are understood to be looking at possible human error and a communication breakdown between the first officer and captain about who was lowering the undercarriage, according to The Australian.

It quotes a former Boeing 767 pilot as saying that a crew on an instrument approach would normally start lowering the undercarriage when the plane was between 2,000ft and 1,500ft from the ground in order to ensure that the aircraft was stable and configured to land by the time it was down to 1,000ft.

In visual conditions, the former pilot said, the aircraft needed to be stable by 500ft, but lowering the gear at 700ft or even at 1,000ft was still far too late.

According to the International Air Transport Association, problems with landing gear resulted in 15 per cent of airline 'hull-loss' accidents last year.

Qantas said flight safety was never at risk but it had stood the pilots down pending the bureau's inquiry into whether human error was to blame.

'This is an extremely rare event, but one we have taken seriously,' the airline said in a statement.

'The flight crew knew all required procedures but there was a brief communication breakdown. They responded quickly to the situation... the cockpit alarm coincided with their actions.'

The ATSB said: 'Passing 700 feet on approach into Sydney, the crew commenced a missed approach due to the aircraft being incorrectly configured for landing.'

The bureau's air safety spokesman Ian Sangston said the 'too low gear' alert sounded because the landing gear had not been lowered, but said it was too early to speculate on the cause.

The incident follows the revocation last week of the licences of two US pilots who overshot their destination by some 150 miles (240 kilometres) while distracted.

Sangston said the ATSB was also investigating an incident in which the autopilot briefly disconnected on board a Jetstar flight between Japan and the Gold Coast as it passed through stormy conditions on October 29.

'My understanding is that there was some sort of problem with the information being provided to the pilots,' Sangston said.

Qantas' budget offshoot Jetstar said early indications were that the Airbus A330's airspeed sensing system was momentarily impaired, and several parts had been replaced on the aircraft before it was allowed to resume flying.

The error messages were similar to those reported from an Air France Airbus A330 jet which mysteriously plunged into the Atlantic in May, taking the lives of all 228 people on board.

But Sangston said the ATSB was yet to examine the black box data from the craft or interview the crew and it was 'only conjecture' to draw parallels.

Meet the birds with a backpack guaranteed to deliver their parcels on time

These pigeon couriers could be members of the last avian postal service in the world - and give Royal Mail a few ideas.

The birds, from the U.S. city of Fort Collins, Colorado transport digital images of intrepid white water rafters to be processed in what is known as the 'Pigeon Express'.

They fly from the top of the Cache La Poudre River down to a base at the bottom where thrill-seekers can collect their snaps.

The concept harks back to the days before the telegram.

The birds are owned and trained by Rocky Mountain Adventures, who fly 19 pigeons five times every day, usually travelling a distance of between 20 and 40 miles.

Using the pigeons is quicker than driving down from the river and it solves the problem of producing photographic memories for the white water rafting tourists. It takes them just 20 minutes.

'We began this as an interesting solution to the problem we encountered with the distance from the bottom of La Poudre to our base 30 miles away back in Fort Collins,' says David Costlow, the head pigeon keeper at Rocky Mountain Adventures.

'We realised that we needed something that could fly like an eagle and thought "bird" and that quickly became "pigeon". And now we believe we are flying the only pigeon postal service in the world.'

Through research, he found a professional pigeon racer in nearby Greeley, who introduced him to a breeder in Fort Collins.

Between the two, he obtained pigeon chicks and plenty of advice on feeding, training, and general pigeon care.

Carrying the digital chips in a lycra bag that weighs only grams, the pigeons are meticulously trained over a period of seven months, with some needing over a year of 'homing' training.

'We take the birds on at four months and make them realise that Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain Adventures is their home,' explains David. 'Once they do that it is plain flying.'

As they are high in the Rocky Mountains, all the pigeons unfortunately run the risk of being lost in the line of action, says David.

'We have lost some pigeons to hawks and eagles up here in Fort Collins,' he adds.

'We lose five on average every year. But we've only lost seven digital chips in the last 14 years.'