Home' Greymouth Star : December 19th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 3
River crash claims life
A 20-year-old woman died after
a car crashed through a guard rail
on a bridge and plunged into a river
in a remote area of the Rangitikei
district last night. e car crashed
o Turakina Valley Road into the
Turakina River, near Hunter ville,
about 9pm. Police said a preliminary
examination suggested the driver, the
car's sole occupant, failed to negotiate
a right-hand bend before crashing
into the guard rail. --- APNZ
A motorcyclist died following a
collision with a car on the Rimutaka
Hill Road near Featherston. e
collision occurred at 7.30pm
yesterday. Paramedics and Featherston
re ghters performed CPR on the
man for 40 minutes, joined by crew
from the rescue helicopter. However,
the man died at the scene. e man
driving the car was unhurt but in
shock. e crash closed the Rimutaka
Road for over two hours.
--- APNZ-Wairarapa Times-Age
Boy feared drowned
A 13-year-old Whakatane boy
is missing after falling into the
Whakatane River last evening. e
boy was playing with friends near
the Whakatane Bridge about 6pm.
He was standing on a concrete
step and was seen to fall backwards
about a metre into the water and did
not resurface, police said. Friends
contacted police and a search was
launched. e Coastguard searched
the river and land search and
rescue sta searched the banks.
e Harbourmaster also helped.
Searchers will be joined by police
divers today. --- APNZ
Crash injuries fatal
A man seriously hurt in a car crash
in Ashburton on November 16 has
died in Christchurch Hospital. e
man was Sailasa Vakalala, 61, of
Timaru. Mr Vakalala and his wife
Asenaca were driving on East Street,
near Cox Street, when they were hit
by a four-wheel-drive vehicle while
attempting to perform a u-turn.
--- APNZ-Ashburton Guardian
Burns victim stable
A middle-aged man who was own
to hospital following a gas bottle
explosion in Auckland is in a stable
condition. e Auckland Westpac
rescue helicopter ew the man to
Middlemore Hospital at 12.20pm
yesterday from Muriwai. He had
serious burns and was in a serious
condition. Yesterday afternoon the
man was in a stable condition, and
was being treated at the hospital's
National Burns Centre. --- APNZ
Big Wednesday draw
ere was no division one winner
in Big Wednesday draw No 426 last
night. Successful numbers were 4, 9,
10, 18, 24, 44; coin toss, heads.
Numbers in Keno draw No 9632:
46, 55, 56, 59, 60, 67, 68, 75. Draw No
9633: 2, 5, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, 26, 29,
32, 43, 47, 56, 61, 67, 69, 70, 77, 79.
Two defence sta killed themselves
and seven others attempted to do so
in the past year.
It creates a sombre total of ve
suicides in the past two years
compared with ve suicides in the
eight years before.
Chief of Defence Lieutenant-
General Rhys Jones said the number
of personnel was stable --- but also
gave a rate of suicide for NZDF
which was 20% higher than a gure
he gave back in March.
e NZDF suicide rate has gone
from one suicide per 10,000 people
to 1.2 suicides.
e most recent death referred
to the coroner was of signaller
Jonathan omas Hosken, 28, at
Burnham camp. ree of the seven
attempted suicides also took place at
Militaries around the world are
grappling with rising suicide levels
among troops returning from
con icts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
e con ict in Afghanistan --- in
which 10 NZDF personnel were
killed --- was dismissed as being a
factor in suicide-related issues.
Mr Jones said the NZDF was
--- after 10 years of deployments
to Afghanistan ---
developing a suicide awareness
training package for delivery at pre-
"Pre-deployment training" is the
preparation training for troops about
to be posted into con ict zones.
e general said all personnel
also received basic training in stress
management and resilience "in order
to perform and meet the demands of
Defence Minister Jonathan
Coleman said the suicides in NZDF
had no relation to deployment to
" e recent NZDF cases of
suicide are not linked to overseas
deployments. Rather, these cases
re ect the wider society pressures
that young New Zealanders face
He said he had recently quizzed Mr
Jones about mental health support
for troops. He said he was assured
there was "a wide range of support
to personnel who are experiencing
mental health issues".
His o ce said a defence-wide
review of health and safety issues did
not include mental health issues.
Dr Said Shahtahmasebi, of
Waikato's Wintec and Kentucky
University in the United States, said
exposure to a heightened feeling
of danger and the life-or-death
decisions made would a ect soldiers
in con ict zones.
"You never know when you pull
the trigger and see somebody you've
shot in front of you what e ect
that will have. Some people will
obviously be a ected --- how much
of an e ect it is, we can't put that
Canterbury University researcher
Mason Head, working with Dr Sue
Tait, has studied post-traumatic
stress disorder in veterans of recent
Mr Head said returning soldiers
found it di cult to "switch o " and
had di culty reconnecting with the
person they were before deployment.
He said they struggled to voice
" e people who want help the
most can't ask for it."
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Defence Force suicide rate on the rise
e murder accused dubbed the
"Black Widow" has been found
guilty of fatally poisoning her
A jury of seven men and ve
women deliberated for seven and
a half hours over two days before
delivering their unanimous
verdict in the High Court at
Christchurch late this morning.
Helen Milner, 50, had denied
murdering Phil Nisbet, 47, by
slipping the sedative Phenergan
into his evening meal and, while
he was heavily sedated, probably
su ocating him.
e Crown had alleged she
made his death, on May 4, 2009,
look like suicide in the hope of
cashing in his $250,000 life
e defence argued that Mr
Nisbet took his own life.
Milner was also found guilty
of one count of unsuccessfully
attempting to kill Mr Nisbet on
April 15, 2009, but not guilty of a
second such charge.
ere were sighs of relief in the
public gallery at the guilty verdict
on the murder charge.
Milner was tearful in the dock
as she was led into the cells.
e judge thanked the jury for
its e orts over the last 14 days.
Defence counsel Rupert Glover
made no comment as he left
Outside court, Kasey Wood-
stock, who testi ed against
Milner, said: "She deserves
everything she got --- let her
Police originally ruled the death
was a suicide. A homicide probe
was launched two years later after
a coroner raised doubts about the
e Crown and defence both
wrapped up their cases yesterday
after 11 days of testimony from
more than 70 witnesses, including
family, friends, workmates,
police, professionals and medical
In nal arguments the jury was
told the case boiled down to a
choice between scienti c and
Crown prosecutor Brent
Stanaway said it amounted to an
O ce administrator Milner
had spoken so frequently about
"getting rid" of her delivery driver
husband, openly discussing
methods and poisons, that she
eventually "talked herself into it",
But defence counsel Rupert
Glover said it was not a case of
murder by poison, but rather
an assassination of Milner's
character by "poisonous
testimony". He urged the jury to
look at the science instead.
Milner will be sentenced on
February 20. --- APNZ
Helen Milner in the dock during the trial.
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Falling tree kills man
A young man was killed by
a falling tree while working
on a forestry block in rural
Horowhenua this morning.
e death is believed to be the
10th forestry fatality this year.
Ambulance, re and police
services were called to the
accident on State highway 1, o
Oturoa Road between Levin and
Foxton, about 6.45am.
Police central communications
team leader Kirsty Henson said
the man had been felling trees at
the time. "A tree has come down
on top of him."
e man's colleagues noti ed
emergency services and rst aid
was given. However, he died at
the scene. Work Safe NZ will
look into the death, which will be
referred to the coroner.
Central districts police
spokeswoman Sara Stavropoulos
said the dead man was a 20-year-
old from Levin. His name was
likely to be released once his
relatives told extended family
and friends. --- APNZ
e "secrets-for-brownie points"
case has reached Customs Minister
Maurice Williamson --- but he said
he has washed his hands of political
responsibility for it.
It is a stance labelled inadequate by
Greens' spokesman on Customs Ste an
Browning, who said the minister must
at least assure the public nothing illegal
has taken place.
Both the minister and his department
are refusing to make any comment about
an e-mail from Greg Davis, Customs'
manager of intelligence services, which
urged colleagues in charge of sensitive
information about internet tycoon
Kim Dotcom to slip it to the FBI for
At the time of the e-mail, Mr Davis
was manager of the Integrated Targeting
Operations Centre --- a highly sensitive
passenger screening process adopted
from the United States' Department of
In the e-mail, Mr Davis told
Immigration NZ's intelligence sta
a "proactive" delivery of information
would be welcomed by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
Mr Davis said "the FBI would be
interested in anything we have on Kim
Dotcom so any information we can
proactively feed to them on him will buy
you many brownie points".
At the time, no New Zealand agency had
received a formal request for assistance
from the US in the Dotcom case.
Mr Williamson's o ce initially refused
to say whether he had been briefed
about the e-mail by Mr Davis.
Yesterday, Mr Williamson responded
to an urgent O cial Information Act
request and revealed he had been told
last Friday by a senior Customs o cial
about the "brownie points" e-mail.
"It is an operational matter that is
being dealt with by Customs."
But Customs continues to refuse to
make any comment on the issue, saying
only that it is allowed to pass certain
information to other countries.
Mr Browning said the minister
appeared to be using "operational issues"
to avoid getting involved in an incident
which raised concerning questions.
" ere needs to be some very clear
explanations. Greg Davis should be
held accountable. From that e-mail,
that appears to be something that is
potentially even illegal that is being
He said Customs should take note of
the statement made by Prime Minister
John Key when he opened the Integrated
Targeting Operations Centre, just weeks
before Mr Davis sent the e-mail.
At the opening, Mr Key said: "Anyone
who is innocent has nothing to fear."
Mr Browning said Mr Key's view
raised questions about Customs' silence
and refusal to explain Mr Davis' actions.
He said it showed Mr Williamson
needed to be involved.
"What is the minister's explanation
for Greg Davis's casual approach to the
privacy of a New Zealand resident?"
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Williamson mum on FBI 'brownie points' case
A young woman who was told she
was terminally ill has extra reason
to celebrate this Christmas --- her
doctors now say her cancer has gone.
Carrie Watt, 28, is looking forward
to marrying her ance in March and
getting on with a life she was told she
would lose to cervical cancer.
"I haven't stopped smiling," she
said. "We told people pretty much
straight away when we walked out of
the appointment, and popped some
champagne that night.
"But there are de nitely lots more
celebrations to come --- the best
Christmas present ever."
When Ms Watt, who worked for
Canterbury Rugby and the Crusaders,
was diagnosed with cer vical cancer in
August last year, doctors told her they
were con dent of a cure.
She and her partner Glenn
Williams, 29, had bought a house, and
became engaged after her diagnosis.
Ms Watt had chemotherapy and
radiation treatment, but in May she
was told the cancer had spread and
she was terminally ill.
"I never expected it, I was thinking
worst-case scenario might be radical
surgery. I never thought they were
going to say there was nothing they
"I had a complete breakdown in that
hospital room. But as soon as we got
home it was like, right, it's not going to
be how they say it's going to be."
Close friends set-up a Givealittle
fundraising page to raise money for
the cancer drug Avastin --- which is
not government-funded --- and other
support and treatments.
More than 200 donations came from
friends, family members and strangers.
Ms Watt's workmates organised
fundraisers, and a friend's sister in
Wales held a fundraising barbecue.
More than $35,000 was raised.
" e support has been amazing, even
from people that I didn't know," she
Determined to do everything
possible to beat the cancer, Ms Watt
started on a palliative treatment
round of two chemotherapy drugs
and Avastin, and also investigated
alternative measures including diet
and exercise changes.
While she never believed she would
die young, Ms Watt said there were
"really tough moments".
en, at a November 29 meeting
with her oncologist, she and Mr
Williams got the news they wanted.
"We had an indicator earlier in the
week from an internal exam that
everything was looking good, so we
were a little bit prepared for it," she said.
"But nothing can really prepare you
for getting such good news, when
you've been told the worst. It was
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Christmas gift of life
A delighted Carrie Watt and Glenn Williams plan to marry in March.
Corrupt ex-o icer
Corrupt former Christchurch police
o cer Gordon Stanley Meyer has
avoided a jail sentence on charges of
bribery and indecent assault.
In the High Court at Christchurch
today, Justice Graham Panckhurst
sentenced Meyer to nine months' home
detention, and ordered him to pay $3000
to each of his two victims in reparation
for emotional harm.
Meyer admitted telling a suspected
drink-driver that her charges would go
away if she performed oral sex on him.
He also pleaded guilty to indecently
assaulting an 18-year-old woman he
groped while giving her a lift between
pubs while on duty in his marked
Justice Panckhurst gave Meyer credit
for his guilty pleas, which came just
two days before his scheduled trial, and
his exemplary police record prior to his
Meyer made no comment as he left the
e 45-year-old had earlier resigned
from the police.
Assistant Police Commissioner Grant
Nicholls earlier said police welcomed
the conviction on behalf of the victims,
adding that the police investigation
Meyer had been on bail at a North
Island address while he awaited sentence.
--- APNZ- e Star
New Zealanders are being advised
to take extra care over the holiday
period, with latest gures showing last
year's festive-related injuries bill was
Information from ACC Minister
Judith Collins showed that between
December 25 and January 2, about
36,500 Christmas-related injury claims
were lodged with ACC.
About 150 were related to Christmas
trees, 39 to Christmas lights and 29 to
Ms Collins also warned outdoor
enthusiasts to take extra care around
water after 98 people drowned in pools,
beaches and waterways last year.
"It's important to know your limits,
swim between the ags and look out for
one another in the water," Ms Collins
said. --- APNZ
Christmas injuries costly
Yet another Government IT project
has gone o the rails, with a new
Department of Conservation land
management system costing taxpayers
millions in budget overruns while still
failing to deliver as promised.
As in the case of the Novopay debacle,
o cials have blamed an Australian IT
e National Property and Land
Information System (NaPALIS)
initiated two years ago was a joint
programme intended to replace the
Department of Conservation's (DOC)
and Land Information NZ's (Linz)
existing systems, with Tasmanian
company ICS winning the contract.
However documents obtained under
the O cial Information Act by activist
group the Taxpayers Union reveal the
$5.6 million project was completed
several months late in September
last year, required an extra $588,967
to complete and even then failed to
function as required by DOC.
DOC has now allocated about $2m
of additional funding to make the
programme fully operational.
In a stinging independent report
in February this year management
consultant Deloitte said "ine ective
governance and management" of the
project "meant that a successful outcome
had not been delivered".
While Linz was using the system,
DOC was not and had been forced to
spend the extra cash to get the system
"to a point where it will meet their
Deloitte said the project was not
well set up from the beginning and
governance and project management
controls "fell short of good practice".
" ese issues became prevalent as the
programme was heading towards the
nal stages of its implementation."
Deloitte acknowledged that DOC and
Linz sta were under pressure during
the project which was also hampered by
the Christchurch earthquakes.
In its own report on the project late last
year, DOC said the project "has met the
Deloitte criticised DOC's closure
report which "did not re ect the true
situation at the time of closure. Deloitte
noted DOC's report said the programme
had been successfully delivered "when
there were contrary views".
It also noted that it heard comments
blaming ICS for a number of the failures
in the programme.
"However the programme manager
was responsible for managing and
overseeing the vendor (or should
have been). is goes to e ective
management of the vendors and
inadequate accountability being placed
on the programme manager", Deloitte
DOC Director-General Lou Sanson
said it was expected the system would be
fully operational by the middle of next
"Sta are still able to use the database
to carry out regular work but delays in
implementation mean they are currently
unable to access the full operational
bene ts of the new system," Mr Sanson
said in a statement.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
People who want to import, sell or even
acquire high-powered laser pointers will
have to apply to the Ministry of Health
under new Government regulations
Associate Health Minister Jo
Goodhew said the new controls, which
come into force in March, would restrict
access to high-powered laser devices to
those who have a legitimate reason to
use them, such as astronomers.
"High-power laser pointers can cause
eye injuries, even blindness, and skin
burns. ACC accepts about 10 claims a
year for these injuries," Mrs Goodhew
" ey can also cause temporary ash
blindness, which poses a serious risk if
the person a ected is a pilot or in charge
of a vehicle or equipment. e Civil
Aviation Authority reports around 100
laser strike incidents on planes each
Lower power devices, like those used
for pointing during presentations, would
not be a ected.
e controls did not apply to more
sophisticated laser devices such as sur vey
instruments or ri e sights. --- APNZ
New rules for powerful lasers
A simple mathematical error by a
government employee has resulted in
more than $12 million in lottery grants
being handed out incorrectly.
Information provided by the
Department of Internal A airs to the
Lottery Grants Board --- which directs
the distribution of lottery funding to
organisations around the country ---
overstated the amount available for the
2013-14 nancial year by $12.44m.
"It's basically a simple mathematical
error which obviously we regret," the
Manual adjustments made in the
nancial report were not completed and
"in two cases we incorrectly counted two
gures", a spokesman said.
"We have systems in place to make
sure it doesn't happen again."
To make up for the error and meet the
promised higher amount, the Lottery
Grants Board has had to dip into its
reser ves. e e ect is that additional
money has been made available this year,
board secretary Robyn Nicholas said.
'Simple' $12m error
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