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Big Rig Immigration - Sexual Predator Hunt - Bottrill Testifies - Child Support - 0867 Charges - Rodney Sacking - RSA Divided - Four Wheel Drive - Late Arrest - Gang Consultants - Scott Watson Trial - Aids Action Dropped – Bank Fee Rises - Sirs And Dames

BIG RIG IMMIGRATION: Ninety New Zealand and Australian big-rig truck drivers face deportation from the United States after a federal probe into illegal immigration. The long-haul truckies, recruited by newspaper advertisements offering them the chance to see America and make lots of money, had been kept in the US by federal authorities as potential witnesses against the people who brought them there.

SEXUAL PREDATOR HUNT: Police were hunting a sexual predator last night after a 3-year-old boy was abducted and asked to perform sexual acts. The boy was one of two the man approached within a short time, the police say.

BOTTRILL TESTIFIES: Former Gisborne pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill will front up to eight "courageous" women who want to hear how their cervical slides could have been misread. In a move that stunned those at the Gisborne ministerial inquiry into cervical screening yesterday, Dr Bottrill's lawyer, Christopher Hodson, QC, said his client had decided to make a brief statement before the inquiry tomorrow.

CHILD SUPPORT: Fourteen thousand domestic purposes beneficiaries cannot or will not name the father of their child. New figures show that of the 14,000 beneficiaries, two are mothers with 10 children each, one woman has nine children, five have eight children and 16 women have seven children.

0867 CHARGES: Mounting Telecom 0867 Internet connection charges have forced an Auckland ClearNet business user to switch to the Telecom-owned service provider Xtra. Brian Falkner, of Albany-based Internet developer BJC Services, said he began to receive connection bills from Telecom late last year even though he was a ClearNet customer.

RODNEY SACKING: The sacking of the Rodney District Council was yesterday called a stern warning to all councils who get into political strife. Local government expert Professor Graham Bush said most local authorities had never considered that they could be "biffed out" before the Government replaced the council with a commissioner on Monday.

RSA DIVIDED: The Returned Services Association has dissension in its ranks over Government moves to pardon five First World War soldiers executed for desertion or mutiny. National president David Cox said the association did not support singling out the men for exoneration when about 300 others had been disciplined, some of whom were sent back to the front line and were killed.

FOUR WHEEL DRIVE: Three weeks after Earl McIntosh's four-wheel-drive was swamped in seawater off the Coromandel Coast, he found it offered for sale in a Kumeu car yard. Mr McIntosh was trying to tow his boat out of the sea at Kennedy Bay on March 10 when the Isuzu Bighorn bogged down in the water for nearly 15 minutes.

LATE ARREST: In Tauranga police have arrested a man for an attack on an elderly woman more than 20 years ago. The assault occurred late in l979, when a 66-year-old Gisborne woman, Betty Johnson, woke up in her bedroom to find a man standing over her.

GANG CONSULTANTS: Education Minister Trevor Mallard appears to be at odds with his officials over a booklet that encourages schools to set up networks with community organisations and gives the Black Power gang as an example. Mr Mallard said yesterday he did not believe in consulting gangs or forming networks with them.

SCOTT WATSON TRIAL: A crucial concession by the Crown in the Marlborough Sounds murder trial should not have come as a surprise to Scott Watson's lawyers, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday. Defence lawyers have appealed against Watson's convictions for the murders of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart on seven grounds, including a claim that an apparent turnaround by the Crown late in the trial prejudiced Watson and was unfair. But prosecutor Paul Davison, QC, told the court yesterday

AIDS ACTION DROPPED: Aucklander Dennis Hedley has dropped legal action against a family trust which he claimed failed to tell him that a house he bought had been previously occupied by a tenant who died of Aids. But in an about-turn, the Deverick Family Trust now plans to sue Mr Hedley, trust lawyer George Ireland said yesterday.

BANK FEE RISES: WestpacTrust admits it has lost customers with its latest round of fee rises. Spokeswoman Jane Anderson said "a number" of customers had closed their accounts, complaining that a new $2 fee for paying their credit card bill over the counter was unfair and that they felt penalised for paying off debt.

SIRS AND DAMES: In Wellington New Zealanders with titles are an endangered species, says Sir Howard Morrison. But many of them seemed unfazed yesterday by Government plans to do away with knighthoods and damehoods and replace them with a New Zealand honours system.

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