A judge has praised an officer who "placed his life on the line" by standing in front of a man wielding a high-powered rifle, saying he lived up to the highest standards the community could ever expect from police.
Kevin Stephen Jones, 29, from Masterton, appeared in Wellington District Court yesterday and was convicted of using a firearm against a police officer and threatening to do grievous bodily harm.
Jones and a member of his family were tearful throughout the sentencing.
Judge Bill Hastings said on June 1 an unarmed constable was called to a Wairarapa property after a heated argument between Jones and his brother, over their father's death in a hunting trip more than seven years ago.
After the officer arrived a family member's friend saw Jones walking out of the garage with a .44 Magnum rifle and ran inside to tell the officer.
The officer told the occupants of the house to go into another room and went outside to find Jones.
Jones yelled at the officer to get his police dog out of his car, saying: "Get your dog out, I'm going to shoot it and you."
The officer tried to talk Jones down, telling him not to be stupid, and Jones asked: "This is what you want isn't it, me to shoot you?"
The officer got behind a quad bike and continued to try to de-escalate the situation, but decided the only way to get Jones to surrender was by confronting him face-to-face and so stepped out from his cover.
"[He] wrote in his formal statement that at that point he expected to die.
"[He] acted with remarkable courage ... by placing his life on the line he lived up to the highest standards the community could ever expect of their police force.
"The constable completely exposed himself to you, effectively gambling his life," Judge Hastings said.
Jones eventually handed the rifle over and the officer arrested him.
Defence lawyer Louise Elder said Jones' offending seemed to have come from nowhere and was "quite bizarre".
"His wife says it is out of character, he's got no grudge against the police. He's never, ever been in a situation like this before."
Ms Elder said Jones did not know the gun was loaded when he confronted the officer.
She said in all other respects Jones was a "good, hard working man" and was remorseful for his actions. "This man genuinely regrets what he did, you can see the remorse and regret on his face."
Judge Hastings said Jones had told probation he never intended to fire the gun at the officer and believed he had initially got the gun to shoot himself. He said Jones had written a letter of apology to the officer and accepted he had shown genuine remorse.
At an earlier appearance Judge Hastings read out letters from Jones' friends telling of his good character, references which, according to Judge Hastings, described a person who was "radically different" to the person in the police summary of facts. He sentenced Jones to two years and three months in prison and entered a first-strike warning.
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