The fact Warren Uata Kiwi was "a gunman for hire" could not be downplayed, a judge in the High Court at Rotorua said this morning.
Justice Pheroze Jagose was sentencing Tauranga man Kiwi, 59, to nine years' jail time for the attempted murder of Karl Anders Nyman in the driveway of his Ōwhata, Rotorua, home in July 2002.
He added an additional two-and-a-half years for the charge of conspiring with unknown others to commit Nyman's murder. Kiwi was found guilty of both counts by a jury in the same court in September.
The dual terms are to be served concurrently.
The judge referred to a lengthy gap in Kiwi's previous offending as "a time without rain - an 18-year drought".
After amassing more than 40 previous convictions before 2002, the only one he had accrued between then and his 2018 arrest for Nyman's attempted murder had been in 2012 and was drug-related.
He noted Kiwi's payment for the "hit" had been 2.3kg of cannabis.
He also said the covert nature of the attack on Nyman could not be downplayed, telling Kiwi he was very lucky the truck driver hadn't been seriously injured.
When the trial opened, Crown prosecutor Chris Macklin told the jury the attempted murder had been treated as a cold case until Kiwi spoke to a relative about his role in the shooting 16 years previously.
She'd reported this to police who reopened the case, arresting and charging Kiwi.
Before sentence was passed, Kiwi's lawyer Gene Tomlinson said he continued to insist it had been his brother, not him, who had fired at Nyman, saying he apologised to the court on his brother's behalf.
Justice Jagose noted Kiwi had told his pre-sentence report writer the same and displayed minimal remorse.
He talked of the significant emotional toll the attempt on his life had caused Nyman and his partner. For years after the pre-dawn attack they had lived in a state of heightened anxiety and, fearing the gunman would return to their home, they became hyper-vigilant.
The attempt on Nyman's life had put a considerable strain and tension between their respective extended whānau members.
He noted Kiwi's iwi and marae affiliations were to the Tauranga area.
The jury was told the shooting could be sheeted back to a dispute over whānau land "down the coast".
The judge dismissed the Crown's submission Kiwi's actions had been the equivalent of a home invasion.
Outlining the events of that morning, Justice Jagose said Kiwi had driven from Tauranga to Rotorua, parked by a reserve and hidden in bushes near Nyman's home, waiting for him to emerge.
Kiwi had been disguised by a balaclava and his face was covered.
He had a .22 rifle with him, modified to catch any spent ammunition "to minimise the risk of leaving any bullets behind".
When Kiwi saw Nyman head towards his truck Kiwi stepped forward, pointing the .22 at him. The pair struggled, it was said a shot had been fired but that was unproved.
However, as they wrestled up the driveway towards Nyman's home he was shot in the arm.
Despite his injury Nyman managed to dislodge the magazine from the rifle and grab the firearm from Kiwi who fled.
At the trial Nyman testified Kiwi was yelling "sorry bro, wrong house, wrong street" as he ran off.
It was also claimed when the deal was struck for Kiwi to become the hitman the condition was that it must be a Pākehā who was shot.
Justice Jagose made mention of Kiwi's four children whom he'd been raising since they were young. One daughter needed special care which was now being provided by her older sister.