IT was a tense six-hour siege at a remote Hunter Valley property that featured multiple gunshots, heavily armed specialist officers from the tactical operations unit, the armoured "Bearcat" vehicle and police negotiators.
And it was all totally avoidable. If only Andrew Kenneth Reading had listened to police or acted “reasonably and sensibly” when the first two officers knocked on the door of a homestead at Laguna on a foggy night in May last year.
And if only those police officers had been provided with more detailed or accurate information about the situation inside the house.
Then, more than likely, the police officer’s inquiries would have been quick and uneventful.
Instead, Reading, who was suffering depression and anxiety, had been recently assaulted and didn’t believe those outside were police, fired rounds from his .243 calibre bolt action rifle into the air. And quickly, the police presence grew.
Reading, 47, of Martinsville, was due to face a trial in Newcastle District Court last week.
But after negotiations between the DPP and defence he pleaded guilty to firing a firearm in a manner likely to injure persons and using an offensive weapon to prevent police investigation.
On Monday, Reading was jailed for a maximum of three years and two months, with a non-parole period of one year and seven months.
With time served since his arrest after the siege, Reading will be eligible for parole before Christmas.
Reading and his former partner Natalie Gouverneur had arrived unannounced at the remote property on Murrays Run Road on the night of May 16 last year.
They weren’t breaking any laws; Ms Gouverneur was the registered owner of the property and Reading was a licensed firearm holder.
Nevertheless, there seemed to be an “initial misunderstanding” between the pair and the property’s caretaker.
He called the family who had installed him as caretaker and they called the police.
The message that came through – two people had attended the property and one was armed and had discharged a firearm.
“It was an unusual incident,” Crown prosecutor Brian Costello said on Monday.
“If Mr Reading had taken a sensible approach then police could have resolved those issues.
“Instead, police attended with a particular mindset, Mr Reading responded in a way that was unhelpful and things escalated dramatically from that point.”