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Union welcomes WINZ killer's jail term

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/05/2016
Russell John Tully's sentencing has been delayed © Associated Press Russell John Tully's sentencing has been delayed

The union representing public servants says the lengthy jail term handed down to the man who shot dead two Work and Income staff comes as a relief.

Russell John Tully was jailed on Friday for at least 27 years for the September 2014 shooting spree in Ashburton.

WINZ employees Susan Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Turuhira Noble were killed in the attack and a third woman was badly injured.

"Our members will be relieved at the news Tully's vicious and evil crime has been suitably punished," said PSA national secretary Glenn Barclay.

"The Work and Income office at Ashburton was a tight-knit workplace and the impact of these tragic deaths has been profound - for the families of the victims, their community and the whole country."

He said the sentence should send a message that workers had the right to do their job in safety.

The government agency which employed the victims said there had been much pain for their families and staff since the incident.

"I hope today's sentencing provides some closure for Peg's and Leigh's families and loved ones.

"Our staff have endured much and today's sentencing will also help them as they continue to move on from that day, but never forgetting their lost colleagues and friends," he said.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said Work and Income staff deserved to be safe at work.

"Violence, threats of violence and abuse towards our staff is totally unacceptable.

"Work and Income has taken a zero tolerance approach to any kind of threatening behaviour both in offices and in phone conversations."

She said the agency had improved security at its offices and now employed more than double the number of security guards it did before the shootings.

Anne Tolley. © RNZ Anne Tolley.
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