8 Jul 2016

Ashburton WINZ hearing should continue - Judge

12:22 pm on 8 July 2016

A judge has ruled that a disputed facts hearing relating to the murder of two Ashburton Ministry of Social Development staff in 2014 should continue.

Aerial view of the cordoned off area around the Work and Income offices in Ashburton.

Aerial view of the cordoned off area around the Work and Income offices in Ashburton. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Earlier this week the Ministry pleaded guilty in the Wellington District Court to failing to take all practicable steps to ensure its staff were safe, but it disputed WorkSafe's claim that the office layout was unsafe for staff.

Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland were shot dead at Work and Income's Ashburton Office on 1 September 2014, and in May this year their killer, Russell John Tully was jailed for 27 years for the murders.

Yesterday MSD's lawyer, Brent Stanaway said WorkSafe's expert witnesses appeared to suggest there were 3 options as to what the alleged breach relating to the office layout actually meant in practical terms.

He said given that, the disputed facts hearing should be stayed.

However in a decision just delivered, Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue has ruled that on the face of it a case has been made out against MSD and the hearing will continue.

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