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In Brief: Teenager had knife in sock

AN UNEMPLOYED teenager who claimed he needed to carry a flick-knife for work will be sentenced in March.

The 16-year-old admitted attacking a detective last year after gardai raided his home and restrained his father.

He was on bail for that when he was caught seven months later, in October, with the weapon hidden in his sock.

Garda Mark Melbourne told Dublin Children's Court he saw the teen "acting in a suspicious manner" in south inner city Dublin. The youth had claimed "he had the knife for work" but pleaded guilty in court to possessing it as a weapon.

Judge Ryan adjourned sentencing until a date in March for both incidents.

Postie dies on freezing round

A POSTMAN died while carrying out his rounds during the weekend's freezing temperatures.

John Bircham died on Saturday and had been a postman for 25 years.

Mr Bircham was from Somerset in England.

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Bernadette Lee also died in sub-zero temperatures. She was discovered in the garden next to her sister's on Sunday in Kent.

Fear after leak from factory

A GAS leak at a factory in France left a strong odour over Paris and large areas in the western part of the country early this morning.

A police official said that a leak of mercaptan gas from a factory in Rouen, 120km west of Paris, was responsible for the smell. He added there was no danger to the public.

Another official in Paris said authorities were being flooded with calls from worried residents in the French capital.

Chavez 'joking and laughing'

VENEZUELA'S President Hugo Chavez is "joking and laughing" as he recovers from cancer surgery, an official has said.

Foreign minister Elias Jaua met Mr Chavez in Cuba yesterday and said the ailing leader made decisions about Venezuela's participation in this weekend's Latin American summit in Chile.

He has not been seen in public since his operation on December 11.

No specific details have been given about the nature of his cancer.