Hunted like an animal: 'He shot an innocent man. Twice'

By Debbie Schipp

Living a nightmare: Robert Strange. Photo / Sunday Night
Living a nightmare: Robert Strange. Photo / Sunday Night

Robert Strange is a haunted man.

Hunted like an animal for 20 minutes by a man hellbent on killing, as his mate and colleague slowly bled out through three gunshot wounds, he lived a nightmare which still shocks him from his sleep.

It's two years since Rob cradled dying environment protection officer Glen Turner in his arms in the dark on the dirt of a remote road outside a property at Croppa Creek, near Moree.

Glen had been shot three times by 78-year-old farmer Ian Turnbull: a man hellbent on revenge, and who will die in prison.

"He shot an innocent man, twice," Robert, the only witness to the murderous 20-minute game of cat-and-mouse Turnbull played with the pair, tells Sunday Night journalist Steve Pennells, who has also gained the first interview with Glen's wife, Alison.

"He went there with the sole intention of killing Glen."

In his first media interview since the murder, Robert fights tears as he reveals in chilling detail the panicked, macabre cat-and-mouse chase as Turnbull took down the man he had been fixated on after a long-running dispute with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Glen's employer, over illegal landclearing.

Land was a valuable commodity to Turnbull, the patriarch of a rich and powerful farming family in an area which boasts some of the most fertile land in Australia.

Glen Turner died in his colleague's arms, survived by wife Alison, and two children. Photo / Channel 7
Glen Turner died in his colleague's arms, survived by wife Alison, and two children. Photo / Channel 7

It was Glen's job to police the clearing of native forest the area. Turnbull had done just that, illegally, and wound up in court.

By the time Turnbull had been fined $140,000 plus costs over the illegal clearing in 2011, Glen had become, in his mind, his nemesis, the focus of a hate bordering on obsession.

And Turnbull was to prove a merciless, and deadly enemy.

The pair hadn't seen each other for almost two years until that fateful day on July 29, 2014, when Glen and Rob headed to Croppa Creek to take pictures of stacks of burning vegetation, evidence of fresh land clearing.

Late afternoon, Turner got wind they were there, picked up a pump action shotgun and got in his ute.

And the bloody nightmare began.

Ian Turnbull is now 81, and will die in jail after being found guilty of murder. Photo / John Grainger, News Corp Australia
Ian Turnbull is now 81, and will die in jail after being found guilty of murder. Photo / John Grainger, News Corp Australia

Rob fights tears recounting the horror as Turnbull got out of the ute, shotgun pointed, and advanced on them wordlessly.

He was 15 metres away when he fired. The first shot struck Glen's cheek. The second hit high in his left shoulder.

First the head, then the heart.

The gun swung towards Rob.

Turnbull told him to get back, and drop his camera.

Cowering with his stricken mate behind their own vehicle, Rob pleaded they were unarmed.

"I need to get him help, I need to get him out," Rob begged.

Turnbull replied the only way Glen was leaving was in a body bag.

'It was planned and cowardly attack on somebody who was defenceless,' Glen Turner's wife, Alison, tells Sunday Night. Photo / Channel 7Source
'It was planned and cowardly attack on somebody who was defenceless,' Glen Turner's wife, Alison, tells Sunday Night. Photo / Channel 7Source

And the stalking began. Rob would encourage a heavily-bleeding Glen forward or back behind the vehicle to shield them. Turnbull would follow.

At one point Rob felt the gunshots whistle past his ears ands the words: "I told you to f****g get back. I will kill you."

It went on for 20 minutes as the life sapped from Glen.

"He was croaky, but still doing everything I told him to. Every time I told him to move forward or back and crouch, he did," says Rob.

As darkness closed in, Turnbull seemed "frustrated" he hadn't "done what he wanted to do", Rob says.

"If he'd any sense of compassion he would have let us go," he says. "He went there with the sole intention of killing Glen Turner, and he wasn't leaving until he did."

As the light slipped away, Glen knew he was dying, and made a break for it. Turnbull raised the gun.

"I just said 'oh no'," Rob says, as Turnbull shot Glen in the back as he ran towards a line of trees.

He lowered the gun, looked at Rob and said: "I'm going home to wait for the police. You can go now."

In the darkness, Rob turned the vehicle lights on Glen.

"I sat down with him, poured some water over him and said "come on, we've got to get home'," he tells Pennells.

"I knew he was dying."

Hearing a car on the road, convinced it was Turnbull coming back to finish them both, Rob stood in the glare of the headlights, arms raised, eyes closed.

It wasn't a shot that came. It was help.

As Rob cradled Glen in his arms, a neighbour gently told him his mate was gone.

- news.com.au

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