Police search in front of 9 Kiwi St, St Leonards, the scene
of Wednesday night’s triple fatality. Photo by Gerard
As Katharine Webb ran from her house she heard two shots.
Moments later, as she arrived at her neighbour's home, she
screamed "he's got a gun and is going to kill my babies".
The New Zealand Herald has learnt that neighbour Chris
Foot ran to the house in an attempt to save 9-year-old
Bradley and 6-year-old Ellen, and confronted their father
Edward Livingstone, without knowing the children were already
dead in their beds.
Last night, Mr Foot said he could not speak freely about the
incident after being told not to by police.
"I was just trying to get the kids out of the house. I didn't
give a f*** about the gun. But I don't want to say too much
more, I've probably said enough already."
Details about the troubled last months of Livingstone, 51,
are emerging but what made him snap before he drove to his
estranged wife's Dunedin house and killed the couple's
children before shooting himself is a mystery.
The Herald understands that as Ms Webb ran to Mr
Foot's home she heard two gunshots.
Mr Foot then ran next door to the Livingstone house, in the
harbour suburb of St Leonards.
He stood on the front porch and spoke to Livingstone who was
inside the house, trying to talk him out of using the gun he
"Don't point that gun at me. Put the gun down," Mr Foot was
Livingstone then aimed the shotgun at Mr Foot and fired a
shot at him.
It's understood the gun kicked back, and the shot passed
close over Mr Foot's head.
"It was a genuine attempt [at his life]. He's very lucky to
be alive," a source told the Herald.
A barefooted Mr Foot returned to his house to put his boots
on and returned to the Livingstone property intending to kick
the door in and get the children out.
He went to the rear of the large bungalow and entered through
the back door.
He found the two children dead in their beds.
A gunshot heard by neighbours soon after the shot was fired
at Mr Foot is believed to have been the self-inflicted shot
that killed Livingstone.
One elderly neighbour in Kiwi St described hearing the
gunshots and Ms Webb's cries.
"I heard four shots before I heard her keening. It wasn't a
cry, it was keening ... a wail," said the woman, who did not
want to be named.
The gunshots came in quick succession, she recalled.
"They were 'pop, pop, pop, pop'."
Police converged on the street and about an hour later
confirmed three people were dead.
Other neighbours told the Herald last night that Ms Webb was
"absolutely terrified" of her estranged husband.
One said Livingstone had told her that he'd said he had
"wanted to kill his family". She said she reported the
incident to police.
Livingstone briefly lived with the Foots after he and his
wife ended their marriage last May, the Herald has been told.
People who knew the family, including young children, left
flowers outside the house, which was still cordoned off, last
In June last year, Ms Webb was granted a protection order
against Livingstone, preventing him from contacting her in
any way or approaching her.
The order was specific to her, and did not mention Bradley or
Livingstone breached it in August, and was granted diversion.
It is understood he sent Ms Webb email and left messages on
He was back before the courts in October, pleading guilty to
a second breach of the order, and was discharged without
At that court appearance, it was revealed that Livingstone
was attending counselling.
He was employed at the Corrections Department prison in
Milton, about 50km south of Dunedin. He notified his boss
when he was first charged and took time off.
He began working at the prison in an administrative role when
it opened in 2007.
Corrections Department acting chief executive Jeremy
Lightfoot said Livingstone had no contact or direct
involvement with inmates.
After Corrections became aware of the protection order charge
in August, it worked with Livingstone to ensure he had
"He was going through a marriage break-up," said Mr
"As any good employer would, we were making sure he had
access to our employee assistance programmes and
Livingstone told his bosses about the second breach of the
protection order in mid-September.
"At that point we wanted to take the opportunity to assess
the situation. We suspended him for a period of about a month
and he returned to work in mid-October.
"We maintained contact with him throughout that time,
offering provision of additional counselling and support."
The prison manager contacted Livingstone just before
Christmas, and he indicated his life was taking a positive
"At that time he said he had formed a new relationship.
Indications were that he was starting to feel more positive
and things were perhaps turning a corner," Mr Lightfoot said.
Staff were shocked yesterday at news of the shootings.
"It has hit the site pretty hard. This will have a
significant impact on staff."
The Work and Income New Zealand office where Ms Webb worked
was closed for several hours yesterday while staff were told
of the tragedy.
Winz deputy chief executive Debbie Power said everyone's
thoughts were with her.
"We're all devastated and shocked, and everyone who knows her
will need time and space to deal with this tragedy," she
"Over the coming days, people will be considering the best
ways of supporting Katharine and her wider family and
friends, in ways that will make a real difference for her. We
will also support our colleagues as they come to terms with
what has happened."
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokeswoman Ruth Money said Bradley
and Ellen's deaths were "totally avoidable".
"It is another tragic tragic case of protection orders being
merely pieces of paper and the courts letting the public down
when people breach them," she said.
- Kurt Bayer and Anna Leask