Ben McLean sentenced for murder of wife, Verity McLean

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Benjamin Peter McLean has been sentenced for the murder of his estranged wife and attempted murder of her new partner in Invercargill in April 2017.

Ben McLean plead guilty in the High Court at Invercargill to killing Verity ('Bert') McLean and attempting to murder Gary Duggan. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

Mr McLean was a police officer (off-duty) at the time of murder. He left the Police in May 2017 while on remand.

Mr McLean made a tearful statement in court. He called his children "the real victims of this death" and said "Bert was the love of my life who broke my heart and my soul, and I will live with regret and the torment for having been involved in her death for the rest of my life."

Verity McLean's father read a statement outside court saying "He said he had lost the love of his life, in court. He didn't lose her. He executed her."

Media reported victim advocates' criticisms of Ben McLean's statement. Holly Carrington from Shine said "It sounds very much like Ben McLean's mentality was 'If I can't have you, no one can' and that in his eyes, her not wanting to be with him meant that she deserved to die." Lesley Elliott, whose daughter Sophie was murdered by ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston in 2008, said "I've heard it all before ... It's all very well [for him] to be remorseful now. Once again he's victim-blaming [suggesting that] it wasn't his fault, he was driven to this by another man or his wife."

In a piece looking at media coverage of the case, Michelle Duff wrote, "Another woman killed at the hands of her partner, and a big, gaping hole where there needs to be two words: domestic violence. These two words have been missing throughout the coverage of the murder of Invercargill mum Verity McLean, 40, by her estranged husband, Ben McLean. ... New Zealand has the highest rate of domestic violence in the developed world. The way the courts and the media talk about domestic violence matters."

For background information and related research and resources, see our previous story Resources for addressing police perpetrated domestic violence.

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Additional media

Top police boss offers to intervene in sex assault case, as victims lose faith in force, Stuff, 05.02.2018

Senior Northland policeman faces indecent assault, sexual violation charges, NZ Herald, 23.01.2018

Long-serving police officer back at work after harassment investigation, Stuff, 11.01.2018

Top Auckland architect convicted after burning wife's wedding dress in arson, NZ Herald, 19.12.2017

Policeman Ben McLean jailed at least 17 years for killing wife, shooting her new partner, Stuff, 19.12.2017

Ex-police officer jailed 17 years for murder, Radio NZ, 18.12.2017

Statement following the sentencing of Ben McLean, NZ Police, 18.12.2017

Senior police officer in Northland faces criminal charges after sex abuse complaint, Stuff, 12.12.2017

Association defends police, Otago Daily Times, 25.08.2017