Pulling up behind a car which had just led him on a high speed chase around Morrinsville, a Waikato police officer decided to stop 70m behind him.

However, before he had a chance to get out of his patrol car, Rollie James Heke had got out of the red Holden brandishing an AK-47, and opened fire, on August 13, last year.

The officer, who was given permanent name suppression during Heke's sentencing in the High Court at Hamilton today, then saw his life flash before his eyes.

Heke was today jailed for six years and 11 months on a charge of using a firearm against law enforcement officers. It carries a maximum 14-year jail term.

Advertisement

The court earlier heard how the officer was unarmed and had no immediate access to firearms. His only option was to slam his car into reverse.

As he did so, Heke fired shots at him, so he lay down in his car to avoid being shot as bullets sprayed the car. One went through a rear door and through the front passenger seat before lodging in one of the car's door pillars.

He managed to take off up a tanker track for about 200m where he was able to make a phone call to communications staff. As he did he saw another patrol car approaching.

The officers in that vehicle were also shot at multiple times but somehow managed to avoid injury.

In sentencing today, Justice Whata was unimpressed Heke had not expressed any direct remorse to any of the victims. He also labelled his actions as "serious, serious, serious offending".

The officer told the Herald he "remembers it clear as a day".

Forensic investigators at the scene on Kuranui Rd, Morrinsville, where Rollie Heke opened fire on three police officers last year. Photo / File
Forensic investigators at the scene on Kuranui Rd, Morrinsville, where Rollie Heke opened fire on three police officers last year. Photo / File

"I will never forget it. It's got to be the worst day of my life and the effects are ongoing. It's affected a lot of things, my relationships and how I go about my job."

The events had also taken its toll on himself as a person, and he'd experienced a change in temperament.

"It's changed me as a whole as a person. I still love the job but I will never be able to forget what happened and it's just something that I have to deal with day to day."

When told it appeared Heke had no remorse for his actions that day - none was mentioned in a report prepared by Maori agency Wera Consultants Ltd - the officer was not surprised.

"I guess his actions on the day it happened truly reflect the sort of person he is, so to learn of that I'm not really surprised and it just paints a picture of the person he is."

He appreciated the support he'd received from not only friends and family, but also police as a whole.

"They've all helped me through it incredibly. The police were really, really wonderful in supporting us through the whole ordeal."

A patrol car was left riddled with bullet holes after Rollie Heke fired at officers. Photo / File
A patrol car was left riddled with bullet holes after Rollie Heke fired at officers. Photo / File

Thinking back to the moment that Heke opened fire, the officer said it was like seeing his life flash before his eyes".

"There's not many people that can see their life flash before their eyes and see the blast coming out the end of a rifle straight at you. Let's hope it never happens to myself or anyone on the job ever again."

Outside court, 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 that had to contend with Mr Heke when he was being looked for as part of the inquiry, and the impact that had on not only the police that were working but 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."

Heke will serve a total of 12 years and four months in jail as today's sentence was ordered to be served on top of a five year and five month term handed down for drug offending in September.

He also has to serve 50 per cent of today's sentence before he is eligible for parole.