LISTEN: Previously suppressed audio of Russell John Tully's court outburst

A judge last year ruled that convicted Ashburton Work and Income killer Russell John Tully was mentally fit to stand trial, it can now be reported for the first time.

Tully was found to be mentally capable of facing charges of double-murder and attempted murder after a hearing under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003 at the High Court in Christchurch last year.

Justice Cameron Mander came to his conclusions after considering health assessors' report - the contents of which are permanently suppressed under statutory powers.


But after Tully was found guilty by a jury yesterday of the September 1, 2014 slayings, Justice Mander lifted a suppression order this afternoon which had previously prevented the reporting of Tully's fitness to stand trial hearing.

Russell John Tully in the court room in a wheelchair. Photo / Joseph Johnson
Russell John Tully in the court room in a wheelchair. Photo / Joseph Johnson

He also lifted a suppression over a "false start" to the double-murder trial which began on February 24.

An entire jury selection panel was discharged on the first morning of the trial after Tully - who was self-represented after sacking eight lawyers in the lead up - made a loud and angry outburst before them.

As the charges were read out to Tully, who sat restrained in a wheelchair flanked by three prison wardens, Tully complained that he was unwell and needed to lie down.

He claimed that he'd had no opportunity to appeal the fitness to stand trial decision.

Tully claimed that he was being denied his human rights.

Judge Justice Cameron Mander. Photo / Joseph Johnson
Judge Justice Cameron Mander. Photo / Joseph Johnson

Justice Mander repeatedly asked Tully to be quiet.

He refused, continuing to say that he was unwell, that the judge knew about his "medical condition", and that the trial had been "pre-determined by the Crown".


"There is no law here. You're lawless," Tully exclaimed.

Tully then repeatedly told the judge to, "Have a good day" and, "Have a cup of tea, your honour".

When Justice Mander finally had him removed from the court after nine minutes, Tully said, "Thank you, your honour - as you anticipated."

The original jury panel was discharged.

A new jury panel, oblivious to the outburst, was then selected for the trial which began in Tully's absence.

They would later witness two Tully outbursts which led to him being removed from the court.


Tully's previous criminal convictions can now also be reported.

In 2005, he was prosecuted on three criminal charges at the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, the Herald has learned.

He was fined a total of $400 for failing to comply with a request to give police personal details, hindering police, and unlawfully remaining on premises after being directed to leave.

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

As well as his Australian criminal history, he was also convicted on a firearms charge and threatening to kill in New Zealand in 2002, when a landlord served him an eviction notice in order to renovate and sell the Picton flat.

On July 13, 2014 Tully had his firearms licence revoked, the Herald understands.