12 Sep 2016

Ashburton WINZ office layout ruled unsafe

5:50 pm on 12 September 2016

A judge has ruled the Ministry of Social Development office in Ashburton where two workers were killed was unsafe for staff.

Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland were killed in the office in September 2014 by Russell Tully, who was subsequently convicted of their murders.

The ministry had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to take all practicable steps to keep its staff safe, but disputed Worksafe's claim that the office layout was unsafe.

In a ruling released today, Chief District Court judge Jan-Marie Doogue said the possibility of violence from a client at the Ashburton office was reasonably predictable.

Chief Judge Doogue said physical restrictions on public access to staff areas were practicable steps that could have been taken.

A date for the sentencing of the ministry has yet to be set. The ministry is not commenting on the finding until after sentencing.

Public Service Association (PSA) national secretary Glenn Barclay said the judge's decision recognised the risks public servants faced in their work.

He said the PSA would take time to examine the decision further and work through its ramifications.

Ashburton

The Work and Income office in Ashburton after the 2014 shootings Photo: RNZ / Jemma Brackebush

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