Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

The Big Read: It took just 61 seconds: How Russell Tully's rage exploded in the most violent and brutal way

It took just 61 seconds. A mere minute for Russell John Tully to express his frustrations at the system, and the world, in the most brutal, bloody and senseless manner imaginable.

Black balaclava ragged down over his broad-featured face and shaved moon-cratered head, he stormed the Ashburton branch of Work and Income New Zealand with a crudely cut-down shotgun hanging at his side.

He never hesitated. He knew receptionist Peggy Noble well from his many encounters at the Winz centre before he was trespassed for his intimidating, bullying behaviour.

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When he saw her at 9.51am on September 1, 2014 - a bone-cold first day of Spring - there was only one thought on his mind: murder. As bystanders Lucy Waller, David Cooze and security guard Neville Tahere stood there dumbstruck in the frozen seconds of madness, Tully raised the gun. The barrel was less than 2m from Ms Noble's chest when he squeezed the trigger. She was blasted off her chair. Her injuries unsurvivable.

Footage of the shootings taken from 12 closed circuit security cameras inside the government office make for chilling, haunting viewing.

Without sound, it shows the masked gunman moving quickly, deliberately, stalking, hunting his prey.
After murdering Ms Noble, he immediately moved further inside the open-plan building.

He saw Kim Adams - the case manager who once stayed late to process yet another one of his benefit demands. But it wasn't enough for Tully - the Ashburton native who after 20 years of working in the mines of Western Australia, had moved home mid-2014 to die.

He wanted a state house. He wanted food allowances. Winz helped him buy a mountain bike so he could get around. He was annoyed they couldn't help him with cash to buy the bottles of hydrogen peroxide he tipped in his ear to cure what he said was a debilitating skin condition.

Staff bent over backwards to help him. He repaid them with intimidating behaviour, threats of legal action, letters to MPs, approaches to the local paper and ever more demands with his hand out, aggrieved at his treatment, angry at the perceived injustices.

One day when he refused to leave the office, staff decided to trespass him. Tully disputed the move but went away without much fuss.

He came back the next day but security turned him away.

The next time he arrived, he would not be denied.

After murdering Ms Noble, he spotted Ms Adams near a filing cabinet to the rear of the building. He took aim once again.

He pumped another round in the chamber - this time not a cartridge full of tiny pellets like the dozens that fatally filled Ms Noble's chest seconds earlier, but one single deadly piece of lead.

Ms Adams was still trying to figure out what the "explosion" was that she heard coming from near reception. When she saw the gun pointing at her she suddenly knew. She started to run as Tully fired.

"As I moved, obviously I've spun ... it felt like somebody blowing on my cheek, really quite windy ... like ... phew past my face," she told the jury of four men and seven women in Tully's trial at the High Court at Christchurch.

She's 1.57 metres tall and the bullet whizzed past her head as she ran outside. When police examined the scene, they found the solid lead slug embedded in a tree outside - 1.63 metres off the ground.

Tully wasn't done there. He spotted case manager Lindy Curtis huddling under a desk with terrified client, Tristan Gibson.

Ms Curtis saw the gun being pointed at her head. As he fired, she reactively lifted her left leg in a futile attempt at shielding the blow. More than 170 pellets splattered into the outside of her left thigh.

She feared the killer would want to finish her off. So, she played dead. She then heard a colleague plead for her life.

It was Leigh Cleveland, the case manager who'd dealt with Tully the most over the preceding months. Her name, along with Ms Adam's, would be found scrawled alongside the word "discrimination" on a handwritten note in Tully's possession when he was arrested by armed police.

When Tully spotted Ms Cleveland, she pleaded for her life: "Please I beg you, I beg you, you don't have to hurt us ..." Then he shot her.

On the CCTV footage, you see the shot fired. Tully turns to leave but appears distracted by a noise coming from Ms Cleveland. Tully immediately moves closer to her. He fires twice more, in quick succession. Bang. Bang. Once satisfied she is dead, he quickly, but calmly walks out of the building, the shots ringing in the air.

Who is the masked Winz killer?

Russell John Tully was born in Ashburton in March 1966.

The son of a farmhand and a nurse, he was a keen hunter and rugby player.

Tully was an unremarkable student, with no distinctions for academia, arts or sports.

One friend Donn McLaren told the Ashburton Guardian that he had seemed a "good, normal lad".

Mr McLaren said he caught up with Tully about seven years ago and it appeared his life was pretty much on track.

"He was a fun kind of guy. A big bloke. He was a great rugby player, a guy with a lot of future ahead of him."

Sources say that Tully used to tell people his mother died while he was a pupil at Ashburton College, and his father died soon after.

However, his mother Eileen Patricia Tully is alive and living in Christchurch.

When approached this week by the Herald, she became emotional and refused to comment about her son's trial.

"I'm very sorry," she said before closing her flat's door.

Tully did his diesel mechanic's apprenticeship in Mid Canterbury. When he was in his mid-to-late 20s he headed off to work in the mines in Australia.

He was based mostly at Busselton and employed at the Boddington mine - about 130km southeast of Perth - as a heavy diesel mechanic maintaining blast and drill rigs.

Tully, who has a tattoo on his left bicep and right side of his chest, returned to his hometown two months before the shooting. He had been in the Marlborough area earlier, as well as Rangiora, 30km north of Christchurch.

Sources say he'd had "a messy separation" from his wife of 15 years.

The woman, who lives in Queensland, refused to comment in days after the shooting and again last month.

Western Australia police says there are no charges pending against Tully, or any of his known aliases which included John Henry Tully, Russell Smith, and Donald Tully.

On July 13, 2014 he had his firearms licence revoked.

A few weeks earlier, he had returned to his birthplace where he was "fixated" on getting a house and had sought legal advice, locals say.

He camped in a car, the domain, local campgrounds and rough at the river, and in a Housing New Zealand property at Willow St that Armed Offenders Squad officers stormed looking for him in the chaotic hours after the Winz shootings.

Tully stored his meagre possessions - all marked with distinctive 'inX' stickers that he got made by a local signwriter - in a safe storage unit that owner Ken Leadley initially suspected he'd been camping in after seeing him there for hours every day.

He told locals he'd been in the Army. A spokesman for the New Zealand Defence Force this week refused to confirm or deny the claims while Tully was before the courts.

Tully self-medicated bizarre health complaints by buying 6 per cent strength bottles of liquid hydrogen peroxide over the counter from East St Pharmacy in Ashburton.

Pharmacists told how he'd visit the chemist weekly to buy the peroxide, paying in cash.

Tully's trial heard he used the peroxide to treat his skin condition.

East St pharmacist Melissa West said she "wouldn't recommend it for a skin condition", saying it was typically used as a cleaning product or for bleaching fabrics.

Ashburton Winz assistant manager Jaimee Sarah Carrodus first met Tully in July 2014 when he told her he had "some sort of skin-eating disorder".

She said Tully became "very demanding and very manipulative" and "quietly intimidating" to staff who tried to help him with his accommodation and food allowances.

Staff trespassed Tully from the Cass St Winz office on August 8 after he refused to leave and they had become increasingly concerned by his behaviour.

Work and Income Canterbury regional director Shane Carter said many groups and organisations had tried to help Tully.

Tully told him he had "come back to Ashburton to die" and wanted a Housing New Zealand property, but there were none available. He refused offers of temporary housing.

Unhappy with his treatment by local services, he complained to his local MP and Winston Peters.

Around the time he was trespassed from Winz, he was also banned from entering Ashburton Presbyterian Support.

Ashburton Presbyterian Support regional manager Jackie Girvan confirmed Tully had been blocked from their Tancred St building for "staff safety" in early August 2014.

The organisation had helped Tully buy food and organised four nights of emergency accommodation for him at a local campground.

Ms Girvan said Tully had been "desperate" but the group could not pay for his accommodation for any longer than that.

She had dealt with him personally, and after doing so felt she needed the trespass order to keep him away to keep staff safe.

The Crown told the court Tully had become "worked up" about perceived injustices over his treatment by Winz and its staff.

They say he went to the Cass St office that day intent with "killing them all".

When Tully was found hiding beneath a thick macrocarpa hedge in farmer Dan White's field near Lake Hood seven-and-a-half hours later, armed police found a piece of paper in his dark-coloured backpack which had the words "Kim Adams", "Leigh Cleveland" and "discrimination" written on it.
The Crown says that chilling note "showed his intentions" on that day.

The best man at his wedding, an Ashburton builder, refused to comment after Tully's arrest.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's a very good friend of mine and that's all I'm going to say. I know what he's done is not right but I've got nothing to say to you."

Tully was not represented at his trial. Justice Cameron Mander told the court he had been afforded the possibility of legal representation but "regrettably" did not have a lawyer in court.

And he didn't take the stand to tell his version of events.

"I think he was damaged goods," said one local who did not wish to be named.

"He was just an unsavoury character. People who tried to help him were used and abused. He seemed to burn everyone he encountered."

The victims

Peggy Noble. Photo / Supplied
Peggy Noble. Photo / Supplied

Peggy Turuhira Noble
Age: 67
WINZ role: Receptionist
Shooting: Blasted from almost point blank range as she sat at her reception desk. Her injuries were unsurvivable.

Susan Cleveland known as Leigh. Photo / Supplied
Susan Cleveland known as Leigh. Photo / Supplied

Susan Leigh Cleveland
Age: 55
WINZ role: Case manager
Shooting: Begged for her life before gunman shot her. On CCTV footage, gunman appears to leave before returning to fire two more shots at her, including one fatal solid lead shot.

Lindy Louise Curtis
Age: 44
WINZ role: Case manager
Shooting: Gunman spots her huddling under a desk, and quickly fires at her. She reflexively lifts her left leg which took the blast and saved her life.

Kim Elizabeth Adams
WINZ role: Case manager
Shooting: Spots gunman entering open plan office after hearing "explosion" at reception. Gunman fires a shot that whizzes past her head as she runs outside to safety.

Other attacks on WINZ offices around New Zealand

November 1999: A man went berserk with a wooden club in the Orewa office, smashing six plate-glass windows, a computer and a sign, and sending staff scrambling for cover. No one was hurt. The man faced charges of intentional damage.

January 2001: A 33-year-old man drove a car through the front window of the Flaxmere office and attacked computers and furniture in what was said to be the worst attack on the agency up to that date. He was charged with five offences.

August 2002: A man used a bayonet and a taiaha to smash 20 computers at the Porirua office, telling staff to back away from their desks. The man, Michael Anstis, who was 28 at the time, was jailed for two and a half years for aggravated robbery and criminal damage.

November 2003: A 47-year-old man pulled a knife on staff at an office in Dixon St, Wellington. He was charged with assaulting a staff member, possession of an offensive weapon and damaging a computer.

February 2005: Two staff in the Hamilton East office were injured by a knife-wielding woman. A female employee was stabbed in the neck and shoulder and another worker was cut while trying to help. This incident prompted a major security review and security guards have since been posted outside all Work and Income offices.

September 2012: 59-year-old invalid beneficiary Sam Kuha smashed two windows at the Kaikohe office with a sledgehammer and went on hunger strike after being told he could not get an emergency food grant unless he saw a budgeter and waited three weeks for an appointment. He ended his hunger strike 30 days later when Social Development Minister Paula Bennett agreed to meet him. He agreed to pay a $480 bill for repairing the window and was convicted and discharged.

- NZ Herald

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