The family of a woman who was shot in the head by her partner after a relationship counselling session told her killer they believe he had planned the brutal execution.

Flint Wallace coaxed his partner and first cousin, Leigh Wallace, to attend the session in Te Kuiti before shooting her in the head in the passenger seat of his vehicle outside their rural home on August 31, this year.

Leigh Wallace's mother and her two daughters this morning spoke of their heartbreaking loss in the High Court at Hamilton, where Wallace was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 12 years.

Struggling to hold back tears, they spoke of a woman who for years was caught up in a volatile relationship with their cousin, who avoided eye contact with family in the public gallery as he was wheeled into court.

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Leigh Wallace's mother, Rose, spoke of the guilt she felt for driving her daughter to Te Kuiti to attend the session, while her daughters, Tessa and Briar Rose, spoke of the anger and sadness they had felt since losing their mother.

"On that day our lives changed forever. Nothing has been the same since."

Tessa said they had to bury their mother a day later than planned as they didn't want to bury her on her birthday.

Leigh Wallace's whanau from left, daughter Tessa, Mum Rose, son Robert, daughter Briar, and son Adrian, 11. Photo / Belinda Feek
Leigh Wallace's whanau from left, daughter Tessa, Mum Rose, son Robert, daughter Briar, and son Adrian, 11. Photo / Belinda Feek

They spoke of how much happier she had been in the weeks preceding her death; reconnecting with old friends, playing sport and laughing.

She said they knew what went on in their relationship and tried to get her out of it but had to wait until she was ready.

"We hope we never see you again," her daughter told Wallace.

Flint Wallace and Leigh Wallace, 50, who were first cousins, had been in an on and off again relationship since 2014.

In July this year, Leigh Wallace moved out of their Ōtorohanga property to live with family in Whakatāne, but returned to Ōtorohanga on August 31 to attend relationship counselling.

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The pair drove to their counselling session together and left at 12.15pm.

Their ute was spotted parked outside a farm in Te Kuiti for four hours and at 5.30pm Flint Wallace was seen hopping back in the vehicle before they both drove back to his Ōtorohanga home.

Rose Wallace holds a photo of her daughter, Leigh, who was shot in the head by her violent former partner, Flint Wallace. Photo / Belinda Feek
Rose Wallace holds a photo of her daughter, Leigh, who was shot in the head by her violent former partner, Flint Wallace. Photo / Belinda Feek

Once back at the property, Flint Wallace was sitting in the driver's seat when he fired a rifle at Leigh Wallace, who was sitting beside him, hitting her in the head.

He then turned the gun on himself, firing a shot up under his chin into his head, suffering serious injuries.

Flint Wallace, who was on bail for assaulting his partner at the time, then called a family member and told him he "had done something stupid".

Family members arrived within 15 minutes to find blood coming from the grandmother's mouth. They grabbed the gun off Wallace.

When police arrived and asked Wallace if he had shot his partner, he nodded. He was unable to speak to police because of his injury.

Wallace's lawyer Tom Sutcliffe asked Justice Courtney to take into account his early guilty plea and disability after shooting himself after shooting his partner on that fateful day.

The bullet was now still stuck in his neck which had meant he could not have an MRI scan due to the dangers involved and its vulnerability meant surgery was not an option.

He accepted his injury was self inflicted but said it should still be a mitigating factor.

Wallace wore a neck brace and had his right leg outstretched in his wheelchair during his appearance.

Justice Courtney described his behaviour as "entitled and controlling", factors she said she sees too often in offenders in court.

Despite his comments to friends in the days before her death she did not believe the shooting was pre-meditated.

"But these events make it plain that you had an entitled view, that you could control her and it's regrettably a view that is prevalent in these courts."

Wallace was jailed for 12 years.

Outside court, Rose Wallace said she was pleased that the court process was now over and both families could now move on.

However, the children were still struggling to deal with what happened.

"They're still going through a lot and at the end of the day it's their mother so I've been given a task to support them all."

Son, Robert, 30, said the sentencing was "a good outcome".

"It's taken a lot of pressure off all the family, all of mum's kids and makes Christmas a bit easier I guess for all of us."

However, neither daughter was impressed.

"Well those amount of years aren't going to bring our mum back," Tessa, 26, said. "It's nothing to what we have to live with for the rest of our lives and our kids."