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Space Tourism – Olivia Hope And Ben Smart – Air New Zealand – Garry Sotheran Trial – Black Weekend On Roads – Odometer Fraud – Steven Wallace Shooter Named – Great Train Robber Returns Home

SPACE TOURISM: The world’s first Space Tourist has come back to earth with a gentle bump. Dennis Tito says his visit to space was 10 times better than he had expected. He had a great landing, he said. Tito’s space visit has been embarrassing for the US. No US officials were present to welcome Tito, the first ever space tourist, back. Meanwhile the Russian’s are telling everyone with a notebook and camera that they are equal partners in the space station.

OLIVIA HOPE AND BEN SMART: Police are not going ahead with another deep sea search for the bodies of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart. For police the investigation is now complete. The families would like some absolute certainty about where their children are. Scott Watson’s father says he is not surprised that the search has been called off.

AIR NEW ZEALAND: Air New Zealand is launching a new Auckland-Dunedin direct air service. Air New Zealand announced lots of new products today – including in cabin TV. Dunediners says the direct service will be welcome. Air New Zealand needs billions of dollars to upgrade its Ansett fleet. They are not clear however where the money will come from.

GARRY SOTHERAN TRIAL: The jury in the manslaughter trial of Garry Sotheran today heard the airline knew about an undercarriage problem at the time of the crash. Problems with the undercarriage were clear by 1988 the court heard. By 1995 the undercarriages were failing more and more. On the plane that crashed one undercarriage had already been replaced. But the right hand side unit hadn’t arrived in the country. 2 minutes before the crash the pilot noticed that the undercarriage hadn’t lowered. A witness also spoke about an altimeter probe having been painted.

BLACK WEEKEND ON ROADS: New Zealand has suffered one of its blackest weekends on the roads with 12 people killed. The record for weekend fatalities is 17.

ODOMETER FRAUD: Police have arrested and charged an Auckland man with odometer fraud. Of 200 cars sampled by police 50% were found to be tampered.

STEVEN WALLACE SHOOTER NAMED: The Government is exploring ways to protect the identity of police officers involved in shooting incidents. Phil Goff says single individuals can now hold themselves up as judge and jury thanks to the internet. Journalism lecturer Jim Tully says a blanket ban on naming police officers would be undesirable. But Goff says freedom of speech needs to be balanced against the need to protect those who protect us. “I deeply regret that his wife has been subject to harassment,” Goff says. Officials are expected to report back in a few weeks on plans to change the rules.

TRAIN ROBBER RETURNS HOME: After 35 years on the run. Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, 71, is returning home to England, and probably prison. Scenes of chaos at the airport in a media scrum. Biggs finally got into the airport through a different entrance. Despite the chaos at the airport Biggs did finally manage to leave.

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