A man who was declined a grant at Work and Income told a security officer he had a gun and would "come back and do an Ashburton".

The comment refers to the murder of two Work and Income workers, Peggy Noble and Susan Leigh Cleveland, in Ashburton by Russell John Tully on September 1, 2014.

The comment was made by Edward Te Aho when he was trying to get a grant for a new windscreen, police prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Willemsen said in the Whanganui District Court yesterday. The defendant put the comment down to stress and has apologised.

The grant was declined due to a number of other grants previously having been given to Te Aho. He became "verbally abusive" and was escorted from the building by a security officer, the court heard.


He "said he had a gun and that he would come back and do an Ashburton", Ms Willemsen said.

Police arrested Te Aho a short time later and he apologised, saying he shouldn't have said it. He pleaded guilty to behaving threateningly.

Defence lawyer Raukawa Simon said Te Aho was actually seeking a grant for travel to Wellington, where he was about to have eye surgery.

Te Aho told Judge David Cameron the comment he made arose from stress, as he didn't know if he would get the money to go to the operation, and did not know if he would die during surgery or become blind.

He said he "just had a personal korero" with the security guard, whom he had known for a long time, and the comment was "just blown up out of context".

"I'm not a bad person ... I was stressed that day, that's all this was.

"I apologise deeply from the bottom of my heart for what a stupid comment I made."

But Judge Cameron said the threat was "more than a stupid comment".

"It was threatening behaviour and it's totally inappropriate," he said.

He sentenced Te Aho to 40 hours of community work.