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Guilty verdict for police shooter welcomed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/03/2017

The officer in charge of the investigation that resulted in the conviction of a Bay of Plenty man for shooting four policemen has welcomed the guilty verdicts delivered on Friday.

Rhys Warren, 27, was found guilty in Hamilton District Court of two counts of attempted murder, one of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one charge of using a firearm against a police officer.

Warren's house was surrounded by police after he allegedly fired at a spotter plane searching for cannabis in March last year. There was a 22-hour stand-off and a shoot out occurred when the Armed Offenders Squad entered his house.

He had admitted firing shots but argued it was in self-defence.

Constable Regan Mauheni, Constable Damian White, Constable Andrew Flinn and Sergeant Logan Marsh were all wounded during the siege on Onepu Springs Road, near Kawerau.

Outside the court, Detective Inspector Mike Foster welcomed the verdicts.

"We're very pleased - it's a miracle we didn't have two police officers killed on that day."

When asked how the injured men were recovering, Insp Foster said: "They're doing well - it's obviously something they will never forget as it was a day of hell for them."

Jesse Church, who acted as a McKenzie friend, giving advice to Warren during the three-week trial, said the result was a sham.

"It's unfair and unjust the whole system. That was a home invasion by the New Zealand police.

"They ran into this man's home with their machine guns and tried to kill him, and when he defends himself well apparently you're guilty."

However, Mr Church did convey Warren's regret at wounding the police officers and wished them the best with their recovery.

"He has no disregard for them whatever, he's just sorry that they did get hurt but it was never his intent to injure anyone."

The jury took a day to deliberate.

One of the officers was hit in the head, the bullet splitting his skull.

Representing himself at trial, Warren told the court he feared he was fighting for his life when the armed officers entered the house.

Warren will be sentenced on May 26 in Tauranga.

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