At least 20 years jail for killer of courageous policeman

THE armed robber who fatally shot Gold Coast detective Damian Leeding in the face will spend at least 20 years behind bars.

Phillip Graeme Abell was sentenced to life imprisonment when he faced Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday but will be eligible to apply for parole on May 29, 2031.

Abell, 41, was convicted of murder after a trial last month.

He had pleaded guilty to armed robbery and holding seven people hostage at the Pacific Pines Tavern on the Gold Coast on May 29, 2011, but claimed he was innocent of murder.

Det Leeding, a husband and father, was gunned down responding to the robbery and hostage situation.

Crown prosecutor Todd Fuller said Abell had a history of armed robberies with violence, one likely using the same sawn-off shotgun used to kill Det Leeding.

He said Abell had a plan to rob the tavern, wore a disguise and took zip-ties for hostages.

Mr Fuller said Abell took a loaded sawn-off shotgun, extra ammunition and made threats to kill staff.

"Mr Abell was prepared for an exchange of gunfire if needed," he said.

Mr Fuller submitted Abell's use of the shotgun was dangerous and callous, deliberately killing a police officer who had called out for him to stop.

Justice James Douglas described Det Leeding as brave and courageous in the way he undertook his duty.

He said Abell had shown no remorse.

''Your killing of a brave young police officer acting in the course of his duty has grievously affected his young family, his colleagues and the wider community,'' he said.

Det Leeding's sisters said, outside court, they were relieved at the sentence.

During the sentencing process, they read out victim impact statements detailing the tragic ripple effect their brother's death had on them and their family.

Two of Abell's co-offenders will be sentenced at a later date.