By Kurt Bayer
Convicted double murderer Russell John Tully has been interviewed behind bars over the unsolved 1998 murder of Ashburton schoolgirl Kirsty Bentley.
A senior detective quizzed the Ashburton Work and Income killer over one of New Zealand’s most notorious cold case murders at Auckland Prison last week, the Herald understands.
Tully, now aged 52, flatted opposite the Bentley family’s South St home in Ashburton for around three years in the early 1990s.
He was not identified or spoken to during the massive original investigation.
But Tully told police last week that he was married and living in Nelson, working full-time, when 15-year-old Bentley disappeared on December 31, 1998, while walking the family dog on the Ashburton riverbank.
The Herald has learned that Tully left for Australia with his wife on February 12, 1999 less than a month after the schoolgirl’s badly decomposed body was found in the Rakaia Gorge, more than 40km away from where she was last seen.
During his police interview Tully, who was notoriously disruptive and uncooperative during his High Court murder trial, is believed to have given a detailed account of his old car, how he used to camp near Bentley’s abduction site, the reasons for his Australia move, and his knowledge of the Bentley family.
Unless further information comes to light, or further probes into his story raise doubts, then Tully’s alibi looks likely to stack up and police are satisfied he was not involved in her abduction and murder.
By Kurt Bayer