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New Zealand Herald

$1m Payout - Woman Overage - Dangerous Patient - Us Cup Warzone - Dover & Women - Blood Pressure - Gas Explosion - Press Secretary Fallout - Water Bills Up - Water Bills Up - Axe Killer - Bus Driver Safety

$1M PAYOUT: A former probation officer has been awarded around $1 million compensation after proving that job stress cost him his mental and physical health. Christopher John Gilbert sued the Department of Corrections for $900,000 for breaching his employment contract and forcing him to retire on stress-related medical grounds in 1996 at the age of 51.

WOMAN OVERAGE: The woman at the centre of allegations against Dover Samuels has sworn that she was over the age of consent when they engaged in a consensual sexual relationship, it was claimed last night. And a school yearbook showing that she did not leave school until she was nearly 16 - the age of consent - has apparently backed up the embattled Minister of Maori Affairs' assertions that she was not under age when they were lovers in the 1980s.

DANGEROUS PATIENT: A dangerous psychiatric patient who mental health officials believe should remain in secure custody is due to be freed from the Mason Clinic in Auckland on Monday. The patient, whose details are suppressed, is to be released into the community because a mental health tribunal found he did not fit the legal definition of mentally disordered.

US CUP WARZONE: Sir Peter Blake is back in the warzone of the America's Cup, as adviser to the shell-shocked Team New Zealand. Just three months ago, he stepped down after leading the team to two America's Cup wins. But he admits the syndicate is still a third of his life, and he will not turn his back on it.

DOVER & WOMEN: Many people who know Dover Samuels will admit that he has had a reputation over the years as a ladies' man. But the thought that he would knowingly have sex with an underage girl, they simply do not believe to be true.

BLOOD PRESSURE: About 2800 people suffered side-effects from having to change their blood-pressure pills after Pharmac did a controversial price-cutting deal with a drug supplier. The 1998 deal was attacked by some doctors who believed it put their patients at risk. It restricted the maximum subsidy to just two brands of Ace (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors.

GAS EXPLOSION: A family fled from their Devonport home as flames licked at an upstairs bedroom window after a gas main exploded. Two workers laying electrical cable in a pit early in the morning were working close to a gas pipe. It ignited and the ruptured gas main exploded into a fireball.

PRESS SECRETARY FALLOUT: Another Government minister has fallen out with her Beehive press secretary - and the Herald may be to blame. Judith Tizard, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister with Auckland Issues, was incensed at being the latest subject of the Weekend Herald column "Can this career be saved?"

WATER BILLS UP: Water bills in Auckland City are due to go up by an average of $50, meaning most households will pay about $750 a year in water and wastewater charges. Metrowater, the Auckland City Council water subsidiary, plans to raise water prices by 4.85 per cent and wastewater charges by 8.47 per cent from August.

AXE KILLER: Axe-killer Lachlan Jones' psychiatric treatment suffered because of crippling work loads and a "leadership vacuum" within Waitemata Health's mental health service, according to the last health professional to see him alive. Psychiatric nurse Terry Catton yesterday told an inquest into the deaths of Jones and the flatmate he murdered, Malcolm Beggs, that a lack of crisis experience on the part of Jones' consultant psychiatrist affected his treatment.

BUS DRIVER SAFETY: Bus drivers have been told to stop schoolchildren using the back door after the death of a 12-year-old. The Auckland Tramways Union issued the edict to its drivers at Stagecoach as a simple, no-cost way of halting a spate of accidents involving schoolchildren getting off buses.

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