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News for Friday, July 16th, 2010

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The Crown is appealing the suspended sentence given to a Fredericton woman who drove the wrong way on the Vanier Highway, killing the driver of another vehicle. The prosecution is asking New Brunswick's highest court to change the sentence imposed against 62-year-old Wanda Christie on June 11. Christie, who was found guilty of criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death, was spared jail for the December 21, 2007, crash that killed 61-year-old Gerald True. In documents filed to the Court of Appeal, the Crown cited several errors in law for the appeal. Among other things, the prosecution said that given the circumstances, the sentencing judge "imposed a sentence that was manifestly inadequate and clearly unreasonable." The prosecution also said the judge failed to adequately consider the need for general deterrence. At sentencing in provincial court, Judge Julian Dickson said a number of factors influenced his decision not to jail Christie. He cited her poor health, expressions of remorse and the fact she didn't make a conscious decision to engage in risky behaviour on the day in question as reasons not to jail her. Dickson said he believed Christie, who's frail and beset by medical problems including Crohn's disease and depression, is tormented daily by the memory of the fatal crash she caused.

A New Brunswick woman is dead after the SUV she was driving crashed on the Trans-Labrador Highway near Cartwright, on the east coast of Labrador early Wednesday. RCMP say the 30-year-old woman wasn't wearing a seatbelt. She was ejected from the vehicle and found six metres from the wreck. The woman died an hour after she was taken to the Cartwright Medical Clinic. Her body has been transported to St. John's for an autopsy. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Some major cost cutting and job losses are on the way at Bell Aliant here in Atlantic Canada. Spokesperson Alyson Queen says they have no choice but to start working towards four cost cutting initiatives. They will use more private contractors, especially for fibre roll-out work, consolidate operations in their engineering group, eliminate health benefits for retirees, and three of the five call centres in Atlantic Canada will close. Queen says, however, it's not clear yet how many people will be affected, or which contact centres will be shut down. She says the reductions would not have happened had the union accepted their contract offer a month ago.

Giant hogweed, a poisonous plant causing concern in Nova Scotia and Ontario, has now turned up in New Brunswick. The wild plant has the potential to cause blisters and even blindness. Marian Munro, a botanist at the Nova Scotia Museum, said the plant can also cause what is known as phyto-photosensitivity. The plant was sighted in Cape Breton 30 years ago but has now moved into the central part of the province. Chemicals in the sap of the plant can cause rashes and blisters on the skin when exposed to sunlight. If the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause temporary or even permanent blindness. Weed specialists say people who find giant hogweed on their properties should wear protective clothing, rubber gloves and goggles when trying to remove it.

Leigh Anne Gunn asked her husband Raymond for $1 million for Christmas 17 years ago. He wrote a cheque and promised her one day she would cash it. This week, she finally did. The couple from Quispamsis won $1 million in the Lotto Max draw June 4. Leigh Anne said they were at the Superstore in Rothesay doing their regular Friday night grocery shopping when they found out they had won. The cashier told them they had won "quite a bit of money,'' and Leigh Anne guessed $50. When she found out it was $1 million, she said she danced around the store, screaming and hugging strangers. Collecting their symbolic cheque in Moncton on Wednesday, she was in tears as she recalled asking Raymond for $1 million so many years ago. For his part, he's a regular lottery player but the most he had won was $64. The couple has already bought a few "toys-" a truck and a speedboat. But the Gunns plan to stash the rest of the cash away for retirement. They are the eighth $1 million winners in the past eight weeks in Atlantic Canada.

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