Live at Invercargill Police press conference for alleged Anzac Day double shooting.

Posted by nzherald.co.nz on Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The alleged murder of an Invercargill woman by her police officer husband is the greatest tragedy Mayor Tim Shadbolt has encountered in his 23 years on the job.

Constable Benjamin Peter McLean was today charged with the murder of his wife - the mother of his three children - and the attempted murder of a man she was believed to be in a relationship with.

The double shooting on Tuesday night has left the community "shattered", Shadbolt told the Herald tonight.

"It's just devastating for this community," he said.

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"So many people seem to know personally the people involved, and that makes it all the more tragic in a small, close knit community such as ours.

"Our hearts go out to all the victims in this tragic situation.

"It's just quite hard to deal with."

Police say they are "shocked and dismayed" after one of their own allegedly shot two people.

They were called to Otepuni Ave in the suburb of Newfield at 8.19pm on Tuesday.

Verity McLean was found dead at the scene and Garry William Duggan - who called the police - was found with gunshot wounds. He is now in hospital in a stable condition.

Ben McLean, who was injured, handed himself in approximately 40 minutes after the shooting, police said.

Verity McLean and Ben McLean. Off-duty policeman Constable Ben McLean allegedly shot his estranged wife Verity. Photo / Facebook
Verity McLean and Ben McLean. Off-duty policeman Constable Ben McLean allegedly shot his estranged wife Verity. Photo / Facebook

McLean appeared before Judge Mark Callaghan at a Southland Hospital bedside Invercargill District Court hearing this afternoon.

The 47-year-old is charged with murdering Verity McLean - with whom he has three children - and the attempted murder of Duggan.

McLean was remanded in custody by consent to May 18, when he will appear in the Invercargill High Court by video link.

Two senior CIB police from outside Invercargill will help lead the investigation to help police remain impartial as they investigate the case.

Ballistics specialists will help police reconstruct what happened last night. Around 30 staff from inside and outside the district were working on the case.

Otepuni Ave cordoned off by police. Photo / Samuel White
Otepuni Ave cordoned off by police. Photo / Samuel White

Speaking to press at the Invercargill Central Police Station, Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said the priority for police was to remain impartial while the investigation was carried out.

He acknowledged the impact the incident was having on the wider families of the three people involved but also on the "police family" in Invercargill.

"It's had a significant impact on staff that had to deal with this. As district commander I am immensely proud of their professionalism and integrity in the way they conducted themselves last night in what were extreme circumstances."

Basham said the priority for police was to support everyone involved and ensure a thorough, impartial investigation was carried out.

He emphasised that while there was high public interest in the case, McLean had the same rights as any other member of the public and as the matter was before courts he was constrained in the information he could provide.

"We are committed to being professional and diligent and our focus is to understand exactly what has happened," Basham said.

He was still calling for members of the community to come forward, saying there was a "tight-knit" community in Invercargill and some people may know more about what happened.

Superintendent Paul Basham (L) and Inspector Mike Bowman at a press conference regarding the incident this afternoon. Photo / Samuel White
Superintendent Paul Basham (L) and Inspector Mike Bowman at a press conference regarding the incident this afternoon. Photo / Samuel White

Basham confirmed the woman who was killed was known to Ben McLean but said until she was formally identified police would not name her.

He was not aware of any concerns about Ben McLean's mental health but said that would be part of the inquiry.

He emphasised that while there was high public interest in the case, McLean had the same rights as any other person charged with a crime and as the matter was before courts he was constrained in the information he could provide.

The scene at Otepuni Ave in Invercargill today. Photo / Kurt Bayer
The scene at Otepuni Ave in Invercargill today. Photo / Kurt Bayer

The South Today

TV station earlier reported that McLean appeared to have some facial injuries as he was escorted into a hospital visiting room in front of the judge, police, media and court staff.

No explanation was given as to why the hearing took place at the hospital, The South Today reported.

Bail was not sought.

Police said Duggan was this afternoon in a stable condition in hospital.

Fairfax reported earlier that sources confirmed he was in a relationship with Verity McLean.

A friend of the McLeans also confirmed to the Herald that the couple were not living together, but were the parents of three children aged between 9 and 19.

"All I can think of is those kids. Their whole life has been torn apart," she said.

She believed no children were present when the shooting took place.

She knew "all of the parties involved".

"It's been a hugely shocking day. It's stunned a lot of people ... all their focus is on the kids."

Verity McLean was a "bright, bubbly" person, the friend said.

"She was a fantastic mum, loyal to her friends. I've got nothing bad to say about either of them."

The mother of the police officer earlier reportedly told Fairfax she didn't know how her son was.

"I'm holding up okay, I've got a lot of friends and family. It's a very, very long story."