A man who shot at police officers in a Rambo-style rage in a small Waikato town has been jailed.

Rollie James Heke fired shots a three officers after leading them on a short chase around the small town of Morrinsville during the early hours of August 13 last year.

He pleaded guilty in the High Court at Hamilton in July to one representative charge of using a firearm against law enforcement officers.

He was back in court for sentencing today before Justice Christian Whata who jailed him for six years and 11 months. That would be served on top of a five-year and five-month sentence he was currently serving for drugs charges.

Advertisement

The 37-year-old also faced three attempted murder charges but they were dropped by the Crown.

Prosecutor Ross Douch dubbed Heke's actions as "unforgivable" and he was an "appalling role model" for others.

He also urged Justice Whata hand down a minimum non-parole period due to the seriousness of his actions.

Bullet holes from shots fired by police can be seen in the pursued car's windscreen.
Bullet holes from shots fired by police can be seen in the pursued car's windscreen.

"It would be viewed by members of the public as outrageous that police officers go about their evening to a routine traffic stop ... and get a military-style weapon fired at them at close range."

One of the officers, in his victim impact statement, spoke of the fear he felt for his life and then the flood of emotions being rescued.

However, anxiety and changes in his temperament then kicked in which he said took its toll on his personal life and contributed to the breakdown of his relationship.

Another officer, in his statement, said his wife had since become nervous of his wellbeing when going out on the job.

But Heke's lawyer Bill Lawson said system deprivation was a factor that applied to his client's upbringing.

He was removed from his family aged 2 and then moved around several Waikato and Bay of Plenty towns, including Matamata, Tokoroa, Rotorua, Whanganui and Bulls, before being introduced to gang life by his father at 12.

He said it was not overly surprising that he ended up in a life of gang culture involving drugs and alcohol.

"Is it surprising that he starts making decisions which are influenced in that direction as opposed to another direction."

Lawson urged Justice Whata to issue a discount for what he labelled a loss of "centredness" as whenever Heke was involved in tikanga Maori he was grounded and stable in life.

However, the judge noted that there was no reference to remorse directed at the officers anywhere in the pre-sentence report prepared by a private Maori agency. Heke refused to take part in a report prepared by probation.

Lawson struggled to explain and said he left the report in the hands of the "experts".

But Justice Whata was unimpressed.

"That's the single biggest indicator that he's prepared to move away from this type of offending."

In sentencing Heke, the judge said he was unimpressed with the report that had been prepared, labelling the lack of remorse "a major deficiency", however he agreed to hand down a discount of 10 per cent for his personal circumstances.

As for a minimum non parole period of 50 per cent, Justice Whata said he was left "with no doubt" that it had to be imposed.

Heke is a member of the Black Power gang as well as a father of two children aged 13 and 1 and whaangai to seven other children.

Outside court, Waikato police Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley credited Heke's arrest to the professionalism of the officers involved and the hard work by the investigating team afterwards.

When questioned about the lack of remorse shown by Heke, Pitkethley said it hadn't gone unnoticed.

"It was certainly noticeable that it was lacking in regards to the impact that he did have on the officers and the rest of the New Zealand police staff ... when he was being looked for ... and also the public around Morrinsville at that time who were also in fear of their lives."

He acknowledged the incident was rare and described Heke's actions that day as "cowardly".

"You would have heard today of the influence gangs have on individuals and the impact that has on society."

He said the officers involved were recovering well and had the full support of police.

The court heard that Heke was driving on the outskirts of Morrinsville in the early hours of that Sunday morning when he accelerated away from a police patrol unit who clocked him travelling at 89km/h in a 50km/h zone on State Highway 26.

Heke eventually stopped on Kuranui Rd on the outskirts of the town, and the police officer - concerned about Heke's driving - pulled up 70 metres away.

Heke stepped out of his car with a military-style, semi-automatic gun as his passengers, a man and woman, fled for safety.

"Officer A was unarmed and had no immediate access to firearms. He quickly put his vehicle into reverse and drove backwards for approximately 10m until he noted a tanker track on his left."

The officer, who has name suppression, drove up the track as Heke began shooting at him.

During a later scene examination, two shell cases were found on the road near where Heke had been standing.

When the constable saw two "muzzle flashes" from the AK47-style rifle he lay down in the patrol car so he could see over the dashboard, in an attempt to avoid being shot.

One bullet came through the rear door, behind the driver's seat and into the front passenger seat, passing through a backpack on the floor and becoming lodged in the car's pillar.

The constable accelerated 200m up the track, stopping by a farm building and getting out to make a call on his phone.

He had already reported the defendant's car to police communications and saw the red and blue lights of another police car responding to the incident from the opposite direction.

The two officers in the second patrol car stopped 20m from the front of the red Holden, parking on the opposite side of the road, and immediately came under fire from Heke.

The pair returned fire, having previously readied their Glock 17 pistols, but with Heke positioned at the rear of his vehicle he forced the officers into the footwell of their car.

"It quickly became apparent to them that the defendant was in possession of a high-powered military-style weapon and they abandoned their patrol vehicle on foot, heading back along Kuranui Rd and onto Avenue Rd South while still under fire."

Seven rounds struck the car and two bullets entered the interior as the pair fled for their lives. A further three rounds shot from the rear of the car struck the rear driver's side door and roof.

The three officers and two passengers were not injured in the gunfight. Heke was also uninjured.

At the time of the incident, Heke was wanted by police for absconding before he could be sentenced in October 2016 for leading a methamphetamine-importing ring while in Rimutaka Prison.

Heke had been given electronically monitored bail but cut off his bracelet in September that year and had been at large for 11 months.

Labelled a "rural Rambo", Heke went on the run again after the shoot-out, sparking a massive two-week manhunt across the North Island.

Heke was eventually found on August 25 last year in a property in Kaingaroa Forest township.