Ashburton man charged with double murder

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 10:31 02/09/2014

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Ashburton double murder accused Russell John Tully stood quietly in the dock for an appearance at the Christchurch District Court, a day after being the alleged subject of a day-long manhunt.

Forty-eight-year-old Tully was remanded by Judge Joanna Maze on charges of murdering two Ashburton women at the town's Work and Income office yesterday, and attempting to murder a third woman.

The court was busy with media and the public gallery stayed quiet during Tully's appearance.

Tully was described as a homeless beneficiary yesterday, and the court documents today gave his address as, "No fixed abode, Ashburton".

At the request of defence counsel Trudi Aickin, Judge Maze remanded Tully for an appearance in the High Court in Christchurch on September 23. Bail was not sought.

Judge Maze began the hearing by ruling on media applications to film or record the appearance. She said photographs had already been published and it was difficult to see any merit in the argument that there was public interest in having recent pictures.

She declined all the media applications, after giving reporters a chance to speak.

Aickin said identification may well be an issue at the trial, and she opposed filming in court. She asked for further publication of images to be suppressed, but no order was made. She said that issue may be taken up in the High Court.

Judge Maze said: "The interests of a fair trial must predominate at this stage."

No suppression was imposed on the names of the women.

The two victims are Susan Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Turuhira Noble.

Tully is also charged with attempting to murder is Lindy Louise Curtis.

URGENT APPEAL FOR INFORMATION BY POLICE

Police are continuing urgent appeals for sightings of a man in the Ashburton area between 8am and 5pm yesterday.

In particular they are keen to hear from two runners who are thought to have come into contact with him on the Ashburton River Track yesterday morning.

The man was described as wearing dark clothing and a rolled up balaclava, carrying a dark backpack, and riding or pushing a dark mountain bike.

He was also thought to have been near the Ashburton New World supermarket at some point yesterday.

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