Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Ashburton Work and Income shooting: 'The gun went off. I thought that I was history'

Evidence submitted to the trial. Identification of the gunman behind the mask is key. Photos / Pool
Evidence submitted to the trial. Identification of the gunman behind the mask is key. Photos / Pool

An Ashburton Work and Income worker blasted from close range by a masked gunman "played dead" to avoid being finished off, a court heard today.

Lindy Curtis, a Winz case manager, survived after being shot in the leg, the High Court double-murder trial of Russell John Tully was told in Christchurch.

As she lay under her desk bleeding, Ms Curtis heard a co-worker plead for her life before hearing more gunshots.

Tully, 49, denies murdering receptionist Peggy Turuhira Noble, 67, and case manager Susan Leigh Cleveland, 55.

He also denies attempting to murder Ms Curtis and her work colleague Kim Elizabeth Adams, and other charges including two counts of unlawful possession of firearms and one of setting a man-trap.

Russell John Tully in the High Court at Christchurch. Photo / Pool
Russell John Tully in the High Court at Christchurch. Photo / Pool

Identification of the masked gunman is key to the trial, the court has heard.The Crown says evidence that the shooter is Tully is "overwhelming".

Ms Curtis was with client Tristan Gibson at her desk when she heard a "blast" from the reception area.After diving under her desk, she saw the gunman walk towards her.

"I saw the barrels of the gun ... [pointing] towards my head," Ms Curtis said today.

"The gun went off. I thought that I was history and I was wondering who was going to look after my family."

As the man fired, she thinks she reflexively lifted her left leg. The blast struck the outside of her left thigh.

"I looked down at my leg and I could see the red ... blood."Ms Curtis then recalls the gunman looking at her leg; she feared he might take a second shot to finish her off.

"It was clear that the shooter wanted to kill."

She decided to "play dead".

The trial also heard from Ashburton man David Cooze, who challenged the shooter as he tried to escape the murder scene.

Mr Cooze said he got to within one metre of him, and "rattled him so much" that he left behind his bike helmet and lock.

He said he saw the gunman shoot Ms Noble at reception. Mr Cooze fled the building, then saw the man come out of the Winz office and try to unlock a black mountainbike from a stop sign.

Mr Cooze said he started crossing the road to challenge the man when the gunman showed him the butt of a gun, which Mr Cooze took as a warning that he would be shot if he didn't back off.

He retreated back across the street and started "yelling and screaming" at the gunman, calling him a "f****** bastard" as the man tried to put on his helmet.

"He started freaking out. I rattled him that much that he dropped his helmet and bike lock on the ground," Mr Cooze recalled.

Mr Cooze ran after him, getting to about a metre from him before the man cycled east on Moore St, the court heard.

Yesterday (Monday), Tully was removed from the court after his second outburst in front of the jury, claiming that his trial is "fixed".

He was not present in court today.The trial, before Justice Cameron Mander, continues tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 25 Mar 2017 00:19:43 Processing Time: 567ms