Cop who killed wife jailed for life, 17 years minimum non-parole

An off-duty cop who killed his wife and tried to kill her new partner - a man he considered his best friend - has been jailed for life, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Benjamin McLean, 48, had no prior convictions when he shot his wife of 20 years, 40-year-old Verity McLean, in the head with a sawn off .22 rifle on Anzac Day 2017 in the Invercargill suburb of Newfield.

He later shot 48-year-old Garry Duggan twice, hitting him in the upper chest and the forearm. The two struggled and Mr Duggan wrestled the rifle from McLean.

McLean handed himself into the Invercargill police station, where he worked, 40 minutes after the shooting.

Mr Duggan told the Invercargill High Court on Monday morning the "murderous attack" rocked him to his core, saying he'd lost his "best friend".

He said he still felt guilty he could not "protect her from that evil".

"The way [Verity] died haunts me of every moment of every day."

Verity McLean.
Verity McLean. Photo credit: Supplied

He said they didn't intend to fall in love, and made "huge decisions" to leave their partners to be together.

He was in Southland Hospital for two weeks following the attack. Some of the fragments from the bullet remain in his body, surgeons telling him it's too dangerous to remove them.

Mr Duggan believes if he hadn't been a physically strong man, he wouldn't have survived to tell his story.

The 17-year sentence without parole handed down by Justice Rachel Dunningham was mitigated due to McLean's guilty plea and his remorse.

In a brief but tearful apology, McLean told the court the real victims of his actions were the former couple's three children.

"The two most important adults in their life are now gone. I will forever regret the pain and suffering I have caused my children."

A seven-year sentence for the attempted murder of Mr Duggan will be served concurrently.

NZN / Newshub.