Interview reveals suspect's desperation

Last month the Ashburton Guardian interviewed John Henry Tully, the man police have named as a person of interest over the fatal shootings at a Work and Income office in the town this morning.

Their series of reports highlighted his struggles with homelessness. The stories are republished in full below:

Homeless man's cry for help (first published on August 2)

An Ashburton man now homeless is frustrated at the lack of accommodation available in town for people in his situation.

Russell John Tully, known as John, has no accommodation, and with no visible solution resorted to pitch a tent in the domain this week as a cry for help.

However he was moved on by police following calls made by concerned members of the public.

Mr Tully was sleeping in his car but had just sold it to get some money.

It was a frustrating situation for Mr Tully who moved back to Ashburton following a career in the Australian mines. He featured in the Guardian in 2011.

The 48-year-old had "come home to die" from an unidentified skin disease which caused boil-type lumps if untreated and tightened the joints causing limited movement.

It had placed him on a disability benefit and was likely to worsen. His doctor said he should have a mobility scooter.

The Ashburton Guardian last month reported that John Tully was sleeping in his car but had just sold it to get some money. Photo / Ashburton Guardian

After falling out with his flatmate last week, Mr Tully was living rough while on the waiting list for a Housing New Zealand property.

However, he did not anticipate anything soon and had turned to social agencies for support.

Presbyterian Support, through the emergency housing fund, had helped. But after four nights he could no longer turn to them.

He had also kept in touch with HNZ, contacted WINZ, mayor Angus McKay and Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew's office for assistance.

As a cry for help he had pitched his tent openly at the Ashburton Domain.

But after visits from security and 27 telephone calls to the Police from concerned members of the public, he was moved on.

Mr Tully said people kept telling him to move to the city - either Timaru or Christchurch - where accommodation might be easier to find, but he wanted to be in Ashburton.

He was born and raised here and had come home to die, he said.

Ideally he wanted a one bedroom property that he could afford on his disability benefit.

However, most properties in town were more than $300 a week and outside his reach.

He had looked online, on supermarket notice boards and in the newspaper and would continue until something came up. In the meantime his household items were in storage until a solution could be found.

Homeless 'need to stick around' (First published on August 11)

People living rough while looking for long term housing solutions need to stick in one place and get assessed, says Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew.

Mrs Goodhew said she often heard of single males seeking accommodation but there was difficulty finding long term solutions. Many ended up temporarily in camping grounds.

"They do need to stick in one place and get themselves assessed as being a serious housing need and stick around until something comes up," she said.

"I'm not saying they should be sleeping in their cars, but they should be exploring all options."

Mrs Goodhew's comments followed the Guardian highlighting the plight of Ashburton man John Tully who is living on the streets in Ashburton at the moment.

The Government had expanded options for private social housing and offered money to support social housing trusts with their projects.

"They tend to build a community and keep in touch with the people in those options and a sense of pastoral care that continues to happen. Its more community focussed," she said.

Mrs Goodhew said the Government wanted to encourage other players besides Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and district councils.

"It's so we can have social housing by other providers," she said. It included the Abbeyfields concept, which put older people into flat-type situations.

Mrs Goodhew said HNZ held seminars for people to work through other options when social housing was not available to them.

She understood it was "tight out there" with accommodation even before the earthquakes and especially for single men.

"It doesn't happen quickly but HNZ will work with people on the options they're looking for, and guide them," she said.

Ashburton District Council offered pensioner housing but had no plans to get into social housing.

Mayor Angus McKay thanked the agencies who had already helped Mr Tully, who was in need of accommodation in town.

"This is one of those very difficult situations that arises occasionally in our society," he said.

He reiterated council had pensioner cottages, but Mr Tully was too young.

Still searching for a home (First published August 18)

An Ashburton man who remains homeless after two weeks says he is taking his search for housing out in to the political arena, with his plight headed to Winston Peters.

Russell John Tully, known as John, has no accommodation after a falling out with a flatmate.

He featured in the Guardian on August 9, 2014 after he became frustrated at the lack of accommodation available in town for people in his situation. As a plea for help he pitched a tent in the Ashburton Domain.

Since then Mr Tully said he had become aware of at least one Housing New Zealand property in town he believed was untenanted. He said he had spoken to the neighbours.

However Housing New Zealand said the property in question was tenanted.

All of their 186 properties had, or were about to be, tenanted - there were three that had undergone scheduled maintenance.

Mr Tully said he had kept in touch with HNZ, contacted WINZ, mayor Angus McKay and Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew's office for assistance. But two weeks on he was no further ahead.

Mr Tully was sleeping in his car but sold it to access money. He believed his treatment in town warranted further inspection and intended to get Winston Peters investigating.

It was a frustrating situation for Mr Tully who moved back to Ashburton following a career in the Australian mines.

The 48-year-old had "come home to die" from an unidentified skin disease which caused boil-type lumps if untreated and tightened the joints causing limited movement. It was likely to worsen.

It had placed him on a disability benefit and saw him turn to Ashburton's social agencies, who had supported him.

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