NEIGHBOURS star SHANE CONNOR has won AUS$196,709 ($150,000/GBP85,000) after a judge ruled he was unfairly sacked from the hit Australian soap.

The 46-year-old star, who played builder JOE SCULLY, was axed in September 2003, despite having nine months left to run on his contract. Producers at Grundy Television claimed they made the decision after receiving repeated complaints from cast and crew over the star's negative attitude and alleged amphetamine habit.

But Justice ROBERT OSBORN of Victoria State Supreme Court ruled in favour of Connor, insisting there was no reliable evidence to suggest he had acted unprofessionally - despite being issued with a final warning five months earlier.

In a statement Connor said, "The actions of Grundy were not only personally distressing but also did significant damage to my professional standing and career.

"I have asked my lawyers to examine the court's findings and advise me of any other legal action I may wish to consider."

Grundy said it would consider appealing against the decision.