A farmer whose property had been at the centre of an illegal land-clearing dispute has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting dead an environment officer.
Ian Robert Turnbull, 79, is accused of killing 51-year-old NSW Environment Department compliance and regulation officer Glen Turner at Croppa Creek, 55 kilometres north of Moree in northern New South Wales.
Today the Moree Local Court was told Turnbull had been in a long-running dispute with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and had a criminal history.
Illegal land clearing on Turnbull's property was the subject of a case in the NSW Land and Environment Court this year.
The victim, a father of two from Tamworth, had been in charge of some of Turnbull's matters before the court.
Turnbull fired a number of shots towards the victim, with one hitting him in the back, the court was told.
Turnbull was denied bail after the prosecution requested it be refused due to the seriousness of the charge.
He will be back in court on August 5.Incident happened late on Tuesday
Police and ambulance paramedics were called to the property about 5:40pm yesterday, police said in a statement.
Turnbull was arrested without incident just after 11:00pm.
The Environment Department confirmed its officer was at the property in a work capacity.
Chief executive Terry Bailey said Mr Turner joined the department in 2007 after seven years in the public service.
"He was a respected and well-liked colleague and friend to many," he said.
"Glen is survived by his wife Alison and their two children who are in our thoughts and prayers during this most difficult time."
Environment Minister Rob Stokes said he was shocked and deeply saddened over the death of the environment officer in the course of his duty.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the family and tight knit staff of the Office of Environment and Heritage at this most difficult time," he said.
"It is hard to fathom how it is that someone who leaves for work in the morning does not return in the afternoon.
"On behalf of the department's Chief Executive Terry Bailey and my colleagues in the NSW Government, our hearts go out to all those who have been impacted by this tragedy."
The shooting shook the community of Croppa Creek.
"We're still in shock," neighbour Elaine Anderson said.
"We can't believe that someone's come out here to do his job, and we're always the ones to be the neighbourly ones and hospitable, but here's a man who's lost his life.
"It's just unthinkable.
"We've seen large-scale clearing across the whole of these districts and it was important to see what was exactly happening. This man was just doing his job."
Mr Turner was the president of the Parents and Citizens Association at Tamworth Public School where his children were students.
In a letter to students and staff, Principal Lee Preston said Mr Turner was a well-known and highly respected member of the school community.
"News of the tragic death of Glen Turner has come as a great shock to us all," he said.