29 Feb 2016

WINZ shooting witness froze before running for her life

5:12 pm on 29 February 2016

A woman who witnessed a fatal shooting at the Ashburton WINZ office says she froze when she saw a man holding a sawn-off gun and wearing a balaclava.

Russell Tully at the High Court today.

Russell Tully at the High Court today. Photo: POOL

Russell Tully, 49, is charged with the murder of Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland, and the attempted murder of two of their colleagues at the Work and Income office in September 2014.

An eye-witness to the shooting Lucy Waller has described the moment a masked man entered the building and took aim at the receptionist, Peggy Noble.

Today Lucy Waller, who was in line waiting to be seen at the office, held back tears as she described seeing a man with a shotgun come through the door and calmly approach the receptionist, Peggy Noble.

She said Ms Noble was preoccupied and did not seem to notice the man standing close to her as he lifted the gun and opened fire.

Ms Waller froze for a moment before running for the front door, all the time hearing the receptionist screaming and a further one or two shots.

Neville Tahere, who was the security guard at the Ashburton WINZ office in 2014, said he ran from the office, after he saw the receptionist being shot.

Mr Tahere told the court he first noticed the gunman when he was already inside, with a gun.

Mr Tahere said he ran off after seeing Ms Noble being shot, but returned when he saw the gunman leave the office.

He said he heard a woman yelling about her leg and another case manager was swearing and cursing and asking if anyone had called the police.

This morning, Russell Tully appeared in the High Court in Christchurch, but was removed by the judge after an outburst.

Mr Tully appeared in the court this morning in a wheelchair, but was removed by Justice Mander after he interrupted the court.

He yelled out that he has been on a hunger strike for two weeks and has not received any medical care.

While the crown called the first witness of the day Mr Tully yelled out "Trial fixing by Judge Mander" seven times before being removed from the court.

Justice Cameron Mander

Justice Cameron Mander Photo: POOL

Justice Cameron Mander instructed Mr Tully be removed from the court and told the jury he did not make that decision lightly.

"The fact that Mr Tully is not present is something that you must not hold against him in hearing and deciding this case, likewise you must not read anything into or speculate about his conduct when he has briefly been in court."

Justice Mander instructed the jury to ignore Mr Tully's conduct and focus on the evidence put before them.

Mr Tully was also removed after a loud outburst last week.

He is representing himself, and is being assisted by friends of the court James Rapley and Phil Shamy.

The trial is continuing without Mr Tully.