13 Jul 2016

No precedent for Work and Income shooting, court told

3:08 pm on 13 July 2016

An accountant who helped review security measures following the murder of two staff at Work and Income in Ashburton has told a court the event was of an exceptional nature.

The reviewer, Murray Jack, told the Wellington District Court it was only one of its kind in the Ministry of Social Development's history.

Murray Jack

Safety reviewer Murray Jack speaks at the hearing at the Wellington District Court. Photo: RNZ

The case relates to the ministry's prosecution for breaching health and safety legislation over the murders by Russell Tully in September 2014.

Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland were shot dead by Tully at the agency's Ashburton office on 1 September 2014.

Tully was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to spent at least 27 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Mr Jack was part of a team that considered what changes could be made to the physical environment of the Work and Income office to keep staff safe.

Mr Jack said Tully had been isolated from the office through a trespass order and had not made verbal threats towards the staff.

It was likely Tully would have been able to breach any barrier that was put in place, he said.

Last week, three witnesses gave evidence for WorkSafe outlining what they said were flaws in the office's layout.

The ministry has already pleaded guilty to health and safety violations but has disputed the facts, saying WorkSafe's interpretation of a safe office layout was at the extreme end of risk for an agency that must deal with people.

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