The man who survived a jealous policeman's murderous revenge says his former friend is an "evil bastard" who has stolen his life.

Constable Ben McLean was today jailed for at least 17 years for the execution-style murder of his wife and attempted murder of her new lover Garry Duggan.

Mother of their three Verity 'Bert' McLean died from a single gunshot to the head, less than three weeks after she told McLean she was leaving him for family friend Duggan.

In the High Court in Invercargill this morning, the 48-year-old police officer offered an apology to his three children, as well as the wider McLean, Barber and Duggan families.


"The real victims of this death are my three children. The two most important adults in their lives are now gone," McLean said.

"Bert was the love of my life who broke my heart and my soul, and I will live with regret and the torment for having been involved in her death for the rest of my life."

It was the last of a number of emotional speeches from those affected by the traumatic events.

Earlier Duggan, through spokesman Michael Laws, told the court in his victim impact statement that he continued to live with an immense feeling of guilt.

"I loved this woman, and she loved me and she felt safe with me, and I could not protect her from the evil of Ben McLean," Duggan said.

"Bert's final moments of suffering from that evil is a legacy I have to live with forever."

Duggan noted that, "If I'd been a physically weaker man, there would be no one here to tell you what an evil bastard he really is."

Duggan saw no contrition in the man he had known for 15 years.

"I do resent having my life stolen by this man and do not believe he has any remorse . . . he regards his actions as being caused by others rather than accepting any responsibility himself."

The survivor said he suffered post-traumatic stress following the incident and was left with the ordeal indelibly etched into his mind.

Verity McLean's sister Catherine Barber spoke on behalf of the victim's twin sister Lisa and mother Katrina.

The emotional Barber family testimonies stated McLean's actions on Anzac Day were out of character, and that the emotional harm on their three children was substantial.

The High Court heard that Verity McLean had moved out of the family home and into Duggan's flat three weeks before the killings.

Crown prosecutor Riki Donnelly said the crime was pre-meditated and calculated, with a high level of callousness and sought a 17-year minimum non-parole period.

Defence counsel said the defendant will likely be in solitary confinement for another 18 months because of his role as a police officer, and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Justice Rachel Dunningham said the extent of the injuries, and the horrendous effect on the families warranted life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Fatal jealousy

Constable Benjamin Peter McLean, 48, had pleaded guilty last week to murder and attempted murder before the High Court at Invercargill. He appeared in the same court this morning for sentencing.

McLean, 48, shot his wife of 20 years, Verity, in the head with a sawn off .22 rifle on Anzac Day this year in the Invercargill suburb of Newfield.

He then lay in wait for her new partner - his friend Garry Duggan - whom he shot twice, hitting him in the upper chest and the forearm.

The two struggled and Duggan wrestled the rifle from McLean. McLean handed himself into the Invercargill police station, where he worked, 40 minutes after the shooting.

On April 5 this year his wife Verity McLean, 40, known as "Bert", had told the defendant she had begun a relationship with Duggan, his close friend of 15 years.

Read more:
How jilted policeman plotted his revenge
Stunned families react to murder by jealous cop

On Anzac Day, after his wife had broken into the Scott St address they formerly shared to retrieve her belongings, he packed a bag and cycled to her new abode.

His rucksack contained a cut-down .22 rifle to which a silencer had been fixed with black insulation tape.

And there was further evidence of McLean's preparation.

He packed blue disposable rubber gloves, a bottle of hand sanitiser, plastic handcuffs (the same type the Armed Offenders Squad uses), strips of towel and a portable radio tuned to the Invercargill police channel.

Verity McLean was found dead with a single bullet wound which had entered under her chin.

Strips of towel later found in McLean's bag were bloodstained and covered in saliva, a summary of facts said, and inside a fireplace were burned remains consistent with plastic handcuffs.

Duggan arrived back at the Otepuni Ave property at 8pm, where McLean lay in wait.

He was faced with his former friend training a rifle directly at him.

McLean shot the victim in the right upper chest and again in the forearm.

Despite the wounds, Duggan grabbed the firearm and smashed it over McLean's head, causing the stock to break off.

A violent struggle ensued as the man fought for his life.

But McLean pulled out a 50cm wooden baton from the backpack and hit him in the head.

McLean put the victim in a "choke hold" but he continued to fight back, using the baton against his attacker.

Eventually, the exhausted pair reached a physical stalemate and sat arguing.

When Duggan quizzed him about Verity McLean's whereabouts, the defendant claimed she was at a friend's house and soon after fled on his bike.

Police arrived to find Duggan bleeding profusely and Verity McLean dead in the house.

Later that night McLean was driven to the police station and handed himself in.