Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a NZME. News Service journalist based in Auckland.

Men jailed for terrifying home invasion

Yvonne Wiffen said the men rushed at her and pushed her down so she could not see them. Photo / File
Yvonne Wiffen said the men rushed at her and pushed her down so she could not see them. Photo / File

The victim of a terrifying home invasion who was forced to open a safe with a shotgun to her head says she has been sentenced to a life of forever looking over her shoulder.

Yvonne Wiffen was visibly shaken today as the two men who burst into her Upper Hutt home last year were sentenced in Wellington District Court to more than 10 years in prison.

Jeremy Gorinski, 34, and Dinesh Manoharan, 36, were found guilty of aggravated robbery by a jury last month.

The trial was told how Mrs Wiffen pleaded for her life as she was forced to open a safe during the robbery in which she and husband Malcolm, both in their 60s, were bound and threatened with sawn-off shotguns.

The men stole $90,000 in notes, coins and jewellery from the couple's Silverstream home on June 19 last year.

Mrs Wiffen told APNZ the sentences were "better than nothing" but the ordeal had ruined their lives.

"We've got a life sentence because I just can't go outside at night without looking over my shoulder to see who's there, while they're tucked up cosy and warm. It makes you sick," she said.

"On a nice sunny day when you lock your bloody doors - how ridiculous that you have to live like that."

Mrs Wiffen said the men had taken all their savings, which they would never get back.

And she would have to relive the ordeal when the men became eligible for parole in five and a half years.

"You have no idea, when you're trying to unlock a safe with a gun at your head, the fear and the terror that's involved in that. Nobody will ever know what I went through to do that."

Judge Davidson said the victims had been "terrorised" by the premeditated robbery, which had deeply affected them emotionally and financially.

"The effect on the victims has been profound. They were elderly, vulnerable and alone in their own home."

He read from a victim impact statement in which Mr Wiffen said he was "extremely traumatised" by the home invasion.

Mr Wiffen said he did not know what would happen after the men tied his hands behind his back and covered his head.

"I could feel the gun at my back. I really thought I could be shot."

Mr Wiffen said there was nothing he could do as he heard his wife pleading not to be shot.

Manoharan's lawyer Christopher Stevenson said his client "vigorously maintains his innocence" and had not taken part in the robbery.

Gorinski's lawyer Keith Jefferies said there was no overt violence and his client had no history of violent offending.

Judge Davidson sentenced Gorinski to a total of 13 years and three months in prison, including nine years and nine months for aggravated robbery, with a minimum non-parole period of five and a half years.

The sentence included three and half years in prison for 14 unrelated burglary charges.

Gorinski earlier pleaded guilty to stealing $200,000 in property from a number of victims including cars, memorabilia and jewellery.

Judge Davidson also ordered Gorinski to pay $6000 in reparation, with the money to come from the sale of an Audi car Gorinski bought with the Wiffen's money.

Manoharan was sentenced to 11 years in jail for aggravated robbery, also with a minimum non-parole period of five and a half years.

The higher sentence took account of Manoharan's history of serious violence, including a prior conviction for aggravated robbery and kidnapping, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

- APNZ

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