27 May 2016

Work and Income killer Russell John Tully jailed for at least 27 years

8:54 pm on 27 May 2016

The family of a woman murdered during a shooting at the Ashburton Work and Income office say the death tore them apart.

Russell John Tully at the High Court in Christchurch on

Russell John Tully will spend at least 27 years in prison. Photo: POOL / Dean Kozanic

Russell Tully was sentenced today to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 27 years.

The gallery at the High Court in Christchurch was packed with family members of the victims and Work and Income employees who survived the shooting.

Tully, 50, was found guilty in March of murdering Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland, and of attempting to murder case manager Kim Adams. The jury found him not guilty of attempting to murder Lindy Curtis, who was shot in the leg.

The shooting took place in the office on 1 September, 2014.

In sentencing this morning, Justice Mander told the court Russell Tully was a dangerous man capable of horrible things.

Kim Adams, left, reads her victim impact statement supported by Alison Kermode who also gave a statement.

Kim Adams, left, reads her victim impact statement supported by Alison Kermode who also gave a statement. Photo: POOL / Dean Kozanic

He said Tully had given no indications of remorse.

"The absence of responsibility for your offending means the prognosis for rehabilitation is poor."

Tully submitted during sentencing he was not in the right mind-frame at the time, and his mental health should be taken into account.

When Justice Mander dismissed his comments, Tully yelled over him.

Justice Mander said Tully was at a high risk of harming others, and had no regard for the sanctity of human life.

He said there had been nothing random about the shooting, and that it was planned and premeditated.

Raw emotion in victim's statements

Peggy Noble's grand-daughter, Crystal Bishopson, said in her victim impact statement she was deeply saddened she can no longer visit her grandmother, and her death had torn the family apart.

"To this day our family is grieving, as we still find it hard to come to terms with the merciless and horrific circumstances in which Peg's life was taken.

She said she was devastated she never got the chance to say goodbye.

"Everyone should have the right to go to work and come home safely."

Work and Income employee Leigh-Anne Hydes  reads her victim impact statement.

Leigh-Anne Hydes reads her victim impact statement. Photo: POOL / Dean Kozanic

Leigh-Anne Hydes, who survived the shooting, said she will never forget what she witnessed that day.

"I can recall it as if it was yesterday. That night, and the immediate days following, I could not go to bed as I was too scared to close my eyes."

She said Tully chose to take a gun and walk into the office, and he should never walk among society again.

"Mr Tully's overrated sense of self-importance had him believe we were responsible for his situation.

"He didn't go to any other organisation he had a grievance with where there were men. He took a gun and he walked into an office full of women."

She said the smell and sights of her wounded friends would never leave her.

The Ministry of Social Development said it hoped Tully's sentence would provide closure to the victims' families.

The ministry's chief executive, Brendan Boyle, said the families have endured a lot of pain since the day of the shooting, and although the office staff will never forget their lost colleagues and friends, the sentence was a small step towards recovery.

GRAPHIC WARNING: Some readers may find these images disturbing.

Russell John Tully entering the Ashburton Work and Income office in September last year. Photo: Supplied

On 1 September 2014 Tully entered the WINZ office dressed in a green military type jacket and balaclava, wielding a gun.

CCTV footage shown at his two-week trial in the High Court in Christchurch in March showed Tully calmly walking into the office and shooting receptionist Peggy Noble at close range.

The footage shows Tully shooting at case manager Kim Adams before fatally shooting Leigh Cleveland three times.

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