Winz shooting trial: Shotgun injuries 'unequivocally unsurvivable'

By Michelle Nelson

Russell John Tully was found in a hedge on the outskirts of Ashburton by a police dog handler. Photo / Pool
Russell John Tully was found in a hedge on the outskirts of Ashburton by a police dog handler. Photo / Pool

Ashburton Work and Income shooting victims Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland died almost instantaneously of shotgun injuries that were "unequivocally unsurvivable", a pathologist has told the jury at the High Court trial of Russell John Tully today.

Forensic pathologist Martin Sage said receptionist Ms Noble was killed by a single shot while she sat at her desk in the Cass St Winz office on the morning of September 1, 2014.

More than 150 pellets were found in Ms Noble's chest during an autopsy the following day.

Her co-worker Ms Cleveland was shot three times, but the final shot -- consisting of a shotgun cartridge containing a single solid slug caused the fatal wound, the court heard.

Dr Sage said the first two shots to have hit Ms Cleveland contained pellets, and were unlikely to have been fatal.

However, she could not have survived injuries caused by the third and final shot, he said.

Dr Sage spoke of attending the crime scene in the Ashburton Winz office later in the afternoon on the day of the shootings.

Forensic scientist Kevan Walsh also gave evidence today.

He explained the difference in the types of shotgun cartridges used in the Work and Income shootings, the damage they would cause according to firing distances.

Detective constable Catherine Hone told the court of discovering a spent shotgun cartridge with the letters 'inX' along with other cartridges, a solid shotgun slug and wadding in the Winz office in the aftermath of the shooting.

A solid shotgun slug found outside the office was also removed. The items, along with security system hard drives, were secured as evidence.

Earlier today, the jury heard from police officers involved in Tully's arrest after he was dragged from his hiding place in a hedge on Terrace Rd in the Wheatstone district, near Lake Hood.

First aid for dog bite a wound was administered at the scene, however Tully declined antibiotic treatment later at the Ashburton police station, the court was told.

Ashburton detective Leigh Jenkins described how the suspect's clothes were removed on a white plastic sheet to preserve evidence following his arrest.

He said Tully was wearing five layers of clothing top and bottom as well as gloves at the time.

Police dog Luka left his handler in little doubt someone was hiding in the roadside hedge during the manhunt.

Constable Reuben Whalley told the jury he had been advised of a possible suspect sighting in the vicinity Terrace Rd at about 5pm.

While travelling along the road he noticed a red bike partially hidden in a hedge.
The dog showed immediate interest in the hedge and the area around the bike, Constable Whalley said.

"He indicated there was someone hiding in that area," he said.

Constable Whalley called for backup, challenging the person to come out.

"I am a police dog handler - I have a dog. Come out or he will bite you."

He then commanded Luka to "rouse".

The dog entered the hedge and immediately screaming was heard as the dog "engaged with the offender", constable Whalley said.

He then grabbed the man by a boot and dragged him from the hedge. At this time the man was attempting to wrench the dog's jaws apart and trying to poke its eyes.

The dog remained on an extended lead throughout the arrest and was removed from the scene after the man was handcuffed.

Earlier, Wheatstone farmer Daniel William White told the jury of his instincts kicking in when he came across a man on his farm on the afternoon of September 1, 2014.

Mr White said he had driven a farm ute to a paddock on the south side of the Ashburton riverbank to shift lambs when he saw a man carrying a bicycle on his shoulders moving across the paddock.

He was aware a manhunt was underway following a shooting at the Ashburton Work and Income offices earlier in the day.

"My instincts just kicked in," he said. "I didn't want to go anywhere near him."

Mr White drove off and called 111 to report the sighting, before leaving the farm to wait on Terrace Rd for the police.

He described the man as wearing a green shirt and a dark hat.

Tully is accused of murdering Work and Income workers Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland and attempting to murder their colleagues Kim Adams and Lindy Curtis. He is also on trial for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and setting a mantrap.

Andrew McRae and Mark Zarifeh are prosecuting for the Crown.

Tully, who has not been in court during the morning session, has elected to defend himself. In his absence the case is being managed by amicus lawyers Phil Shammy and James Rapley.

- Ashburton Guardian

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