An Invercargill police officer who executed his estranged wife and tried to kill her new partner has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Constable Benjamin Peter McLean, 48, shot his wife of 20 years Verity McLean in the head on Anzac Day this year.
A post-mortem examination found Verity McLean suffered 39 fresh injuries, including nine bruises to her upper arm and shoulder.
She'd just moved into a flat at the back of an industrial workshop at Otepuni Ave in the Invercargill suburb of Newfield with long-time family friend Garry William Duggan.
The Herald understands that an off-duty McLean bicycled to the flat on the evening of April 25 armed with a cut-down .22 rifle and his police-issue radio.
After shooting dead his 40-year-old wife, and mother to their three children, he lay in wait for Duggan to come home, sources say.
McLean then fired two shots, which struck Duggan in the body and an arm.
Duggan fought for his life. He managed to wrestle the gun off McLean and land some blows. Duggan suffered a knock to the head before he broke free and ran off.
He phoned emergency services at 8.19pm.
Today at the High Court at Invercargill, McLean pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder.
He will be remanded in custody until Monday December 18 for sentencing.
Earlier, the court heard that McLean phoned his two children after the shootings and told them he was on the run.
McLean told his son he was sorry and had done something wrong and bad. He confessed to shooting Verity, and trying to shoot Duggan.
He then called his daughter to tell her he had screwed up, and that he needed a ride to the police station.
His daughter's boyfriend and mother picked him up and took him to the Invercargill police station where his stunned colleagues took him into custody. He has been in custody since his arrest.When asked today how he would plead to the charge of murdering Verity, McLean hesitated and held back tears before eventually uttering a guilty plea,
The 48-year-old constable kept his eyes on his children, who were in the courtroom for today's hearing.
The families of Ben and Verity McLean said in a statement after today's guilty plea that they were facing a tough time with Christmas looming.
"This has been a very difficult year for us all and as Christmas approaches we are all going to find it a tough time but will get through it together with the support of those around us and community understanding.
"We believe that Southlanders are decent, family-oriented people, who would understand our need for privacy and sensitivity, especially for the children.
"On behalf of the Barber and McLean families we would like to thank Victim Support and everybody who has helped in some way and shown us support over this sad and tragic time."
Additional reporting: Matiu Workman