Shot in the course of his duties

EYES red and filled with tears, Ian Robert Turnbull was clearly distraught as he was led into the dock of Moree Local Court yesterday.

MURDER INVESTIGATION: Barwon crime manager Detective Inspector Gavin Rattenbury details the circumstances surround the alleged murder in Croppa Creek at a press conference in Moree yesterday. Photo: Moree Champion

MURDER INVESTIGATION: Barwon crime manager Detective Inspector Gavin Rattenbury details the circumstances surround the alleged murder in Croppa Creek at a press conference in Moree yesterday. Photo: Moree Champion

About 14 hours beforehand the 79-year-old long-term Croppa Creek resident was captured by police after allegedly ambushing two Office of Environment and Heritage workers, before pulling a gun on them.

Police prosecutor Crystal Jones told Moree Local Court Mr Turner and his colleague were attending the Croppa Creek property to carry out duties.

“Without warning, shots were fired towards the deceased and the witness,” she said.

“There were a number of shots.”

The court heard it was a bullet that struck Mr Turner in the back that was the fatal hit.

The blow was allegedly delivered by Turnbull as the compliance officers tried to carry out an investigation in the Talga Ln area after reports of illegal land clearing in the Croppa Creek region.

Mr Turner’s colleague escaped unharmed but was in a state of shock after the traumatic events.

Turnbull sat motionless in the dock, supported by two family members in the court, as he faced one count of murder.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce said the serious allegations meant, if convicted, Turnbull would likely serve out a term in prison.

“I’m refusing bail,” he told the court.

Solicitor for Turnbull, Sylvestor Joseph, made no application for release in yesterday’s brief proceedings, but noted the accused reserved the right to make further applications for bail down the track. 

The family made no comment and brushed waiting media outside after Turnbull was led back to police cells before being transported to a correctional centre where he will remain. Turnbull will reappear in Moree Local Court on Tuesday.

Throughout yesterday, forensic officers continued to comb two crime scenes as they piece together the puzzle of what went wrong about 5.40pm on Tuesday.

Investigators believe Turnbull confronted officers on the remote laneway as they carried out their duties.

“It is alleged a 79-year-old man drove to the location, armed himself with a firearm and fired a number of shots before leaving,” Barwon crime manager Detective Inspector Gavin Rattenbury said.

“Obviously it’s a very difficult time for all those involved in the investigation, obviously for the family of the deceased and the community.

“Rest assured we’re doing everything we can to investigate the matter and we’ll continue to do so.”

Police haven’t ruled out laying further charges in relation to the incident.

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