The man responsible for the 2010 shooting death of former Glen Innes local and police Constable Bill Crews during an ill-fated south-west Sydney drug raid has been sentenced to at least seven years jail, with a judge finding he thought the man was a robber, not a police officer.
With time served, Philip Nguyen, 57, will be eligible for parole in September 2017 over the shooting, for which he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and shooting with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Constable Crews, 26, was killed by a stray shot from one of his fellow officers when they were confronted by Nguyen during what they thought was a low-risk drug raid on a basement car park in Bankstown on September 8, 2010.
As the officers entered the car park, Nguyen jumped out from behind a car brandishing a silver pistol and fired a number of shots.
The 57-year-old hit Constable Crews in the arm, with the constable firing three shots in return before a fellow detective, David Roberts, fired once, accidentally hitting the constable in the back of the neck.
"After Detective Sergeant Roberts fired the shot, he saw Constable Crews lying on the ground bleeding from the head," Justice Elizabeth Fullerton told the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.
"I acknowledge the central role Constable Crews played in his family as a son, brother, uncle, as well as his role as a mentor and friend."
But Justice Fullerton found that Nguyen had not been aware that Constable Crews and his fellow officers involved in the raid were police.
"I accept that the offender was unaware that Constable Crews was a police officer when he shot at him ... and that the bullet he fired was not the fatal shot."
"He also had a genuine belief, though entirely misplaced, that he had to defend himself from harm.
"Nevertheless the victims' death was a result of his actions.
"It was reasonably foreseeable that Constable Crews may not have been a robber at all."
Justice Fullerton said Nguyen's crime was not in the worst category of the offence, and had shown contrition and remorse, but his involvement in drugs reduced his chances of rehabilitation.
She sentenced Nguyen to a maximum of nine and a half years jail with a minimum non-parole period of seven years.
The slain officer's mother broke down after the sentence was delivered.
Nguyen, 57, had previously told the Supreme Court on March 8 he was "extremely regretful and extremely sad" about Constable Crews' death two-and-a-half years ago.
"I'm extremely remorseful and I wish to offer my apology to the family of the police officer William Crews, and also to the police force," Nguyen said, speaking through an interpreter.
On March 1, members of the Crews family spoke of devastating impact on their lives of the young man's death.
"A part of me died that night," the officer's father, Kelvin Crews told the court. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
"How do you explain what I'm feeling in words? When will it stop hurting? There is no cure for death. Death is forever."
Around 30 family, friends and former colleagues of Constable Crews walked together into the Supreme Court, many sporting ties and tops in the 25-year-old's favourite colour – red.