Double killer Russell John Tully has recently been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum parole period of 27 years, the second highest non-parole period ever given in New Zealand history.
Tully, 50, was found guilty last March of being the man behind the Ashburton Winz centre shooting on September last year. He killed 67-year-old receptionist Peggy Noble point blank, and shot 55-year-old Susan Leigh Cleveland three times while she pleaded for her life.
Tully was also found guilty of attempting to murder Manager Kim Adams, but not guilty of attempting to murder case manager Lindy Curtis, who was badly injured.
At the sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch today, Justice Cameron Mander said that Tully is “a very dangerous man,” and added that there could have been more deaths that day of other staff members had not fled.
Survivors of the horrific shooting were also in court. Colleagues Kim Adams, Jane Hayman Walker, and Leigh-Ann Hydles all said that the attack has made them suffer from anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of what they saw that day.
Experts said that Tully has impaired mental health and personality disturbance.
Chief executive Brendan Boyle could not attend today’s hearing, but a statement was ready by Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Carl Crafar. “We hope today’s sentencing provides some closure for Peg and Leigh’s families and loved ones,” he said.
“The families have endured much pain since September 1, 2014, and this is a small step towards their recovery. Our thoughts are all with them. It’s also significant for Ashburton staff and other victims including staff from the whole of the Ministry of Social Development and the public sector in general,” he added.
“Our staff have endured much and today’s sentencing will also help them as they continue to move on from that day but never forgetting their lost colleagues and friends.”