Shotgun threat caused WINZ lockdown

A man whose shotgun threat caused a lockdown at the WINZ Sydenham branch has been jailed for two months.

As soon as Bevan Peter Brown, 40, is released before Christmas, he will go to Work and Income New Zealand to ask for help to go to Palmerston North where he can live and get support from his family.

The man – a Salvation Army hostel resident – made his threat on October 30 and has been in custody for the last two weeks after failing to turn up at court and getting arrested.

He pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to charges of threatening to injure WINZ staff with intent to frighten them, and breaching his bail.

He waived his right to a pre-sentence report and Judge David Saunders sentenced him immediately, reminding him that it was four years since Russell John Tully shotgunned and killed two people and wounded another in the Ashburton WINZ office.

“The sort of threat you made is something that doesn’t go down well with WINZ staff, particularly if you recall the incident that happened in Ashburton, for which an individual is now serving a long sentence.” Tully was jailed for 27 years in the High Court at Christchurch.

Defence counsel Jessica Bibby acknowledged there were mental health issues, and Brown was on medication for bipolar disorder. After threatening on the phone to “blow a hole in the roof”, Brown had been to the Sydenham office to apologise, she said.

Police prosecutor Edana Sparks said that about 1.55pm on October 30, Brown was at the Salvation Army hostel in Addington when he phoned the WINZ Contact Centre in Hamilton to ask about a quote that had been given to him for clothing and a tent.

“During the conversation, the defendant became abusive towards the call taker and stated that he would get a shotgun and go to a WINZ building Christchurch and shoot staff,” she said.

The WINZ building in Sydenham was then placed on lockdown. Brown told police he was angry when he made the threat that he would get a shotgun and blow a hole in the ceiling.

Judge Saunders noted Brown had a conviction for threatening to kill in 2012, and a later aggravated robbery for which he was given “serious jail time”. He had recently been convicted of disorderly behaviour.

He jailed Brown for two months, with release conditions that he undertake treatment and counselling to reduce the risk of reoffending. He will have to report to Community Probation within 72 hours of his release in December and get WINZ help moving to Palmerston North to settle there, with family support close by.