Man who shot at police and stole cop car is jailed

Photo credit: File

A fugitive who sparked a major manhunt in Northland was sentenced to 11 and a half years in prison on Friday, the judge saying he blew his chance at a new life.

Joshua Mason Kite spent almost a week on the run in August 2016, after shooting at three officers who asked him to stop on Kamo Road, Whangarei.

He stole their police car and turned on the sirens, as unarmed officers ducked his gunshots. He then pulled over a silver Audi and took off for the second time that night, leading police on another high-speed chase.

After a six-day manhunt that saw Northland towns put on lockdown, the fugitive gunman was arrested in the Auckland suburb of Manurewa.

Kite pleaded guilty to a raft of charges in the Auckland High Court on Friday including reckless driving and using a firearm against police.

Family members yelled "stay strong" and "love you" as the sentence was handed down.

He was also sentenced to one charge of meth supply, in relation to an earlier incident, which he says led to him fleeing.

Defence lawyer Annabel Cresswell said Kite had been doing well following his release from prison for a previous crime, but came "under extreme pressure to making a living for his family."

She said he was trying his best but found it difficult to reintegrate to society.

Justice Anne Hinton had little sympathy though, saying Kite needed to take responsibility for his actions.

"It was so stupid," she said. "He had that chance and just blew it."

"He needed more help, but in the end it's down to the person."

Justice Anne Hinton gave him seven years and six months for the Whangarei incident, with a minimum parole period of three years and nine months.

He was sentenced to another four years for the meth supply charge in Auckland, prior to the Whangarei incident.

The two charges are "different and not connected", Justice Hinton said in court on Friday. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Kite apologised at his sentencing.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I was scared after the car crash [on Kamo Road] and I panicked."

He also apologised "to the New Zealand public" and to his family.

"They've waited 10 years to have me come home, I've let them down.

"Show mercy on my life," he added.