Police shooter jailed for eight years

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 10:49 16/11/2012
Murray Toleafoa
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax Media
GUILTY: Murray Toleafoa shot at a policeman in central Auckland in June.

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A man who shot at a police officer leaving him with bullet grazes has been jailed for more than eight years. 

Murray Toleafoa admitted charges of using a firearm against a police constable at the High Court in Auckland. 

Toleafoa was the passenger in a car driven by his partner which was pulled over on Mayoral Dr in the central city in Auckland on June 1.

An agitated Toleafoa urged his girlfriend to drive off, which she attempted.

One of the officers tried to turn off the car's ignition and as he did so Toleafoa pulled a pistol from the car's rear foot well.

The officer, known as Constable A, said he "vividly remembered" seeing the gun pointed directly at his left eye.

He jerked out of the way as Toleafoa pulled the trigger.

The bullet missed and struck a concrete wall behind him but the officer received a gunshot burn to his forearm. 

Toleafoa later said he felt "bullet-proof, agitated and angry" because of the methamphetamine he had smoked.

Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery said Toleafoa had tried to "play down" the case saying he acted as he did only because he was on methamphetamine. 

Raftery said the bullet missed by millimetres and it did not strike only because of the "very prompt" actions of the officer pulling away.

"The fact Constable A is alive to tell his story is due in no part to Mr Toleafoa," he said.

Toleafoa was on bail at the time and his 43 previous convictions included taking a replica gun and "taxing" a tinny house, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, two convictions for assaulting police, aggravated robbery using a firearm and aggravated assault.

Raftery asked for a minimum period of imprisonment saying Toleafoa's history showed "a pattern of disdain" for the justice system characterised by increasing violence.

While he was not physically injured "The officer realises just how close to death he came that night."

Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield said no-one disputed the act was serious and his client admitted it was "a rash decision, it was reckless, it was stupid".

He said Toleafoa contacted his lawyer the night of the shooting and arrangements were made to surrender to police.

Toleafoa was arrested at a central city supermarket though Mansfield said his client was on his way to his office to hand himself in and he was "intercepted" by police.

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The desire to hand himself in and his guilty plea spoke of his remorse, Mansfield said.

"It certainly was not his intention to hit the officer. He simply wanted to leave in the motor vehicle."

Justice Mark Woolford discharged the count of attempted murder police originally had laid. 

The judge said the offending was "particularly grave".

He jailed Toleafoa for eight years and three months with a minimum period of five years.

The 20-year-old woman allegedly driving the car when the shooting occurred, Nadia Bell, is facing a charge of being party to unlawful possession of a pistol.

- Auckland Now

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