Napier man Chazz Hayden Hall was today sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting his former partner in the mouth while their 5-year-old child slept in an adjacent room.

The court heard he left the murder scene with the child still asleep and was arrested only after a prolonged police pursuit.

Hall appeared in the High Court at Napier, and was told he faced a minumum 15-and-a-half years behind bars.

Hall, 29, pleaded guilty in January to murdering mother and Plunket nurse Victoria Foster at her Westshore home in October 2015.

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Justice Graham Lang revealed for the first time that Hall shot Foster, 24, through the mouth with a shotgun he'd taken to the apartment the couple used to share on the night of Labour Day, October 26, 2015.

Victoria Foster was killed while her daughter was sleeping in another room.
Victoria Foster was killed while her daughter was sleeping in another room.

Their 5-year-old daughter was asleep in the next room at the time.

Having moved out two years previously, Hall retained contact.

Bbut following phone discussions in which Foster had said she didn't want to see him again, the intoxicated Hall arrived at the property just before 8.40pm with the shotgun and a bottle of wine.

Defence counsel Russell Fairbrother QC argued the wine was for use if events had turned out differently.

But Hall could not accept the relationship was over and the couple argued.

He then shot her and fled in his car, contacting a cousin and his own father before leading police on an hour-long chase.

During the prusuit, he fired at least three shots in the air while threatening to take his own life and shoot any police officer who tried to stop him.

The chase ended on the main road in Clive, midway between Napier and Hastings.

Hall fired another shot into the air before police shot him. Hall now has a permanent disability as a result.

Justice Lang said police needed to make an arrest without further risk to themselves or the public.

Hall also admitted dangerous use of a firearm, threatening to kill police, unlawful use of a firearm and dangerous driving.

Hall had originally pleaded not guilty to murdering Foster but changed his plea on January 13, avoiding a trial which had been scheduled to start at the High Court this week.

He reversed his plea after an overseas pathologist hired by the defence supported police evidence of how close the gun was to Foster when it was fired.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Hall had asked for a minimum prison term of 17 years.

The judge highlighted Hall's teenaged offending involving an armed abduction of a man in 2004 and a sentence of five-and-a-half years so Hall could never have legally owned the gun.

He also reiterated the horror expressed by members of Foster's family at what might have confronted the couple's daughter had she woken.

Both were factors in handing down a life sentence for Foster's murder, with a minimum 15-and-a-half years before Hall can apply for parole.

Hall was also sentenced to 18 months for threatening to kill police and for recklessly discharging a firearm, three months for unlawful possession of the weapon, and two months for dangerous driving.

Today Justice Lang reassured the court, with a packed gallery of family members, that Foster's daughter appeared not to have woken, was still asleep when police arrived and had not witnessed her mother's death or its aftermath.

He also told the court that the shot did not facially disfigure Foster.

Victim impact statements were read to the court on behalf of Foster's sister, uncle and cousin.

After Hall's sudden guilty plea in January, one of Foster's close friends, Renee-Lee Hunt, said she still found the loss "devastating".

"All I know is that it will be a relief to no longer attend court dates and to finally be able to mourn and remember Vic without the weight of the case or the constant thoughts of 'what next'."

Hunt had previously set up a Givealittle page to raise funds for Foster's daughter.

On the page, which raised $18,658.20, Hunt wrote her friend was a "strong, bright, caring, beautiful, fun person" who worked hard to provide the best life she could for herself and her daughter.

After today's sentencing, Foster's family, who had previously indicated through Detective Sergeant Jason Crowe that they wished to speak with media, later declined.

Crowe said they preferred to retain their privacy.