Man threatens WINZ staff with "Ashburton part two"

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

A Gisborne man has pleaded guilty to threatening Work and Income Staff, making reference to the fatal shooting of WINZ staff members in Ashburton.

Mathew Sam Stevens, 39, had been attending a work seekers appointment on November 1st 2018.

It is reported that Stevens became enraged with staff, where he left the building yelling, "This is why Ashburton happened.  You're lucky I don't come back and turn it into Ashburton part two."

In 2014, two Work and Income staff members in Ashburton were shot dead by Russell John Tully, who has been sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 27 years.

The judge said that the offending by Stevens was at the top end for a threatening language offence which carries a maximum prison term of three months.

Regional Commissioner for the Ministry of Social Development Annie Aranui says, "We treat any threats to the safety of our staff and/or clients with extreme gravity.  We've made sure that all staff and clients involved in this particular incident have received all the support they've needed.”

Stevens will be sentenced on the 25th of July.