After spending $7000 on security cameras to catch a burglar and leading a public hunt to find him, Kerris Browne has come face to face with the man who crept into her house and stole her belongings.
Raniera Kiriwera, 27, from Auckland, appeared in the Rotorua District Court on Tuesday for sentencing after pleading guilty earlier to a charge of burglary of Chris and Kerris Browne's Clayton Rd homestay on March 17.
Kiriwera sneaked into the home in the middle of the night through an unlocked ranch slider wearing socks. He stole a diary that had the homestay's bookings as well as cash.
The burglary was made public in March by the Brownes, who went to great lengths to identify the man. They released the security camera footage to the Rotorua Daily Post and put up posters of security camera footage around the city and on Facebook.
With Judge Greg Hollister-Jones' permission, Kerris Browne read a statement to Kiriwera today.
In it she said the burglary was an ultimate invasion of her family home.
"Instead of relief when you arrive home, it has been fear and anger."
She said her business' reputation had suffered because their missing diary meant there had been double bookings. One customer, a large group, threatened legal action and was so annoyed they posted a negative review on Trip Advisor, meaning it will remain on an international website forever.
She said family relationships had also suffered because her son, who was celebrating his 16th birthday, had friends staying outside in a tent on the night of the burglary, which was why the ranch slider was left unlocked to allow them to use the bathroom.
"Of course we all thought the theft was done by one of the teens, and everyone was naturally blaming each other for a long time afterwards. I feel very bad about that ..."
She said they had made contact with the restorative justice office three times but had no luck getting anything set up.
Kiriwera was represented by Louis Te Kani who said his client committed the burglary as a last resort to provide for his family, including a newborn baby.
Kiriwera asked to speak and told the Brownes he was sorry. He also said he did it only once and had tried to contact Mana Social Services to carry out restorative justice.
He told Judge Hollister-Jones he had support from his Auckland employer where he worked as an engineer building trucks.
Judge Hollister-Jones said he would not consider a community-based sentence as Kiriwera had four previous dwelling burglary convictions, but he put off final sentencing allowing more time to explore if home detention was an option and whether restorative justice could be completed.
Kiriwera was remanded on continued bail until October 29 for sentencing.