Elderly farmer Ian Turnbull who’s has been charged with murder went
An elderly farmer accused of “deliberately executing” an unarmed environment officer in northern NSW has been refused bail despite offering more than $1 million in security.
Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of Glen Turner, 51, in the back at a Croppa Creek property north of Moree in July.
Tensions over land-clearing in the region had been simmering for years, and Turnbull and his alleged victim had butted heads before, the NSW Supreme Court heard on Thursday.
Mr Turnbull’s wife of more than 50 years told his bail hearing he looked “wretched” on the evening he allegedly shot Mr Turner with a rifle.
Robeena Turnbull said her husband came home, sat down in a chair, and did not move until police arrived nearly five hours later.
“He said to me, `I simply cracked. I didn’t mean to kill him’,” Mrs Turnbull told the court.
“He looked wretched … blank. He was somewhere else.”
Mrs Turnbull said she had visited her husband every weekend since his arrest – a 12-hour round trip that involves driving to Brisbane from her son’s Queensland home, flying to Newcastle and renting a car for the final leg to Cessnock Correctional Centre.
Her husband, who turns 80 next month and has been fitted with a pacemaker, had difficulty walking and she could see he was in pain.
“He said he could only walk about 10 feet and then he would crumple to the floor,” Mrs Turnbull said.
“But (he only expresses discomfort) when I ask him. He doesn’t come out complaining.”
The court heard Turnbull and his wife could stay with relatives on Sydney’s north shore if he were released on bail, and that his son was prepared to offer $300,000 in cash and security topping $1 million to ensure his father’s release.
But Acting Justice Anthony Blackmore said the strength of the Crown case, coupled with the Turnbulls’ deep pockets, meant there was a risk Turnbull would flee.
“The applicant appears to have deliberately executed an unarmed environment officer by shooting him in the back,” Justice Blackmore said.
“It seems difficult to accept on face value the truth of the statement made by the applicant to his wife that he did not mean to kill the deceased.”
He said there was evidence suggesting Turnbull had threatened Mr Turner in 2012 and continued to express “animus” towards the state’s environment department, and would pose a danger to the public if released.
“He shows little remorse,” Justice Blackmore said.
“In my view, he is a danger to all environment officials if released on bail.
“Further, in my view, he is a risk to the public.”