Ashburton sentencing "will bring closure" for shooting victims' families

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The Ministry of Social Development did not do enough to protect staff in Ashburton from violent clients, and its sentencing will bring much-needed closure for the families of the women who died, the PSA says.

Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said she would have imposed a nominal fine of $16,000 but as the Ministry is a Crown organisation, it cannot be fined.

"Today’s judgement acknowledges the Ministry did not do enough to protect its staff in Ashburton," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

“Chief Justice Doogue found ‘[the Ministry’s] failures did not cause the harm wrought by Mr Russell John Tully’ in September 2014, when he murdered Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble.

"But she noted staff at the Ashburton Work and Income office had felt scared, exposed and vulnerable - and had at times been cornered and threatened by clients.

"We know from our recent Workplace Dynamics survey that frontline public servants often bear the brunt of their clients’ frustrations.

"The PSA has been working with the Ministry in establishing new guidelines for office layouts.

"However, there is more work to do, and those conversations are continuing.

"We believe today’s sentencing marks the end of a lengthy process which will have been deeply upsetting for the families, friends and colleagues of Peggy Noble and Leigh Cleveland.

"We hope their healing can continue, and we continue to offer our support to anyone who’s been affected by this tragedy."