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New Zealand Herald

Mates’ Car, Bodies Found - Interest Rates - Dangerous Robbers - Road Toll - Todd Allegations - Citibank Swindler - Gillon Punishment - Woman Missing - Cervical Screening Inquiry - Refugee Burgled - Mad Axe Killer - Golden Handshakes

MATES’ CAR, BODIES FOUND: Two wheels poking from the icy Oreti River signalled the end of a mystery for the families of three missing Southland teenagers. Silence reigned on the frost-covered riverbanks in minus-four-degree cold as a crane yesterday hoisted a crumpled Mazda 323 from 1.5m of water in a section of the fast-moving river between Invercargill and Winton.

RUGBY INJURIES: Increasing spinal injuries among rugby and league players have put "gang tackling" under the spotlight. Already this season six people have suffered serious spinal cord injuries. Last year spinal units saw five cases in total.

INTEREST RATES: Home owners have been spared another increase in interest rates - for now. After raising rates five times since November, Reserve Bank Governor Dr Don Brash left the official cash rate unchanged at 6.50 per cent yesterday.

DANGEROUS ROBBERS: Armed police have recaptured two dangerous robbers who bashed a constable during a daring police station escape. Charles Paki and Tasi Fepale were arrested in the driveway of an Auckland home yesterday after the armed offenders squad swooped on the property.

ROAD TOLL: The Auckland road toll has fallen to just a third of what it was 13 years ago. Thirty-six people died on Auckland roads during the first six months of this year - well down on recent years and a third of the 109 deaths in 1987.

TODD ALLEGATIONS: New Zealand Olympic chiefs would be well within their rights to dump Mark Todd from their team, international Games officials say. The technical officer for the International Olympic Committee, Simon Toulson, said from Lausanne last night that under Olympic rules Todd could be dropped from the team.

CITIBANK SWINDLER: A former senior executive of Citibank is said to have swindled rich buddies and banks out of $7 million as he fell into a Nigerian investment scam. The best known of five men allegedly deceived was John Fernyhough, former chairman of Electricity Corporation, Forestry Corporation and Direct Capital Partners.

GILLON PUNISHMENT: National wants to prolong the punishment on Alliance whip Grant Gillon for his sheep comments in Parliament, despite two apologies and a unanimous motion censuring him. National says it will no longer co-operate with Mr Gillon in the House or in the private business committee, where many procedural decisions and compromises are hammered out among party whips.

WOMAN MISSING: A stooped 76-year-old Chinese woman has vanished from her Avondale home. The woman, known by several names, has not been seen for a week at the house where she rents a room but police were not told until Tuesday morning.

CERVICAL SCREENING INQUIRY: The head of the country's cervical screening programme has expressed concern at suggestions that a number of Gisborne women with symptoms of cancer may not have been sent by their doctors for immediate further tests. In response to questions at a ministerial inquiry yesterday, programme manager Dr Julia Peters agreed she was concerned that standards of care which demanded women with visible abnormalities should be sent for follow-up investigation were not followed by health professionals in several cases.

REFUGEE BURGLED: Yen Tran says her husband was a man who watched over his family and friends - and he still does so, even in death. Mrs Tran, a Vietnamese refugee, has endured a life few in New Zealand can comprehend, so returning home on Tuesday evening to find she had been burgled was not such a shock.

MAD AXE KILLER: Schizophrenic axe-killer Lachlan Jones' failure to take his medication was not helped by the psychiatric team caring for him, the inquest into the death of Jones and his flatmate, Malcolm Beggs, was told yesterday. Dr Ian Goodwin, an Auckland specialist in attempted suicide and self-mutilation cases called in by the coroner, Mate Frankovich, to report on the care of Jones, said the dispensing practices used by the team included putting medication in a patient's letterbox.

GOLDEN HANDSHAKES: The "face does not fit" clause in the contracts of state chiefs has been scrapped in a move the Government hopes will end golden handshakes in the state sector. State Services Minister Trevor Mallard said the change was part of a wider Government push to stop taxpayers' money being used to avoid political embarrassment.

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