Christchurch terror attack: Tears outside court as accused gunman appears

Alleged Christchurch gunman Brenton Harrison Tarrant has appeared in the Christchurch Court on Saturday morning charged with murder.

Just past 11am, he entered courtroom 12 clad in prison-issued clothes, and cuffed at the wrists and barefoot.

Flanked by two police officers, Tarrant looked around the packed court room. He said nothing. His lawyer spoke on his behalf.

"Your honour I appear as a duty lawyer," Richard Peters said. "There'll be no application for bail and no application for the suppression of the defendant's name."

With heightened security fears the court house was closed to the public - everyone except court staff, police officer and members of the media.

Dozens of reporters and camera crews descended on the Justice Precinct from all over the world, including Europe and North America.

Anyone allowed through the court doors was subject to a thorough security check - items scanned, bodies checked for any metal objects.

Outside the court relatives of the victims gathered - all hoping they'd be allowed inside the court room to get a glimpse of the man accused of murdering their loved ones.

"I wanted to see this guy in court - I want to yell abuse or something because it's not fair," says a shooting victim's son, Daoud Nabi.

"People were praying at that mosque and got shot in the back. This is not on, it's not fair."

The exclusion meant Yama Nabi, who'd arrived at court clutching a photo of his father Omar, wasn't allowed inside.

Nabi says the 71-year-old is amongst the casualties of the attack at the Deans Avenue Mosque.

"Somebody told me Dad jumped the fence and then I went home and I went 'oh he's safe'- but he never came home at all," Nabi told Newshub.

The accused, whose image and identity is suppressed, was held inside the cells of the court building for over four hours before exiting the building under heavy police security and being taken away.