A masked man who forced his way into a Kaitaia home and raped a woman as her children slept nearby in 2003 has been brought to justice 15 years later - after police identified him through his DNA following a second sexual assault.

And his victim has spoken out about the "sheer terror" she felt when the stranger invaded her home and threatened to hurt her children if she did not submit to his sexual demands.

Wiremu Abraham, 43, was jailed for eight years and one month in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

The court heard that in July 2003 he was living in Kaitaia working as a butcher.

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Judge John Bergseng said Abraham "targeted" a 34-year-old woman to offend against for his own "sexual gratification".

He identified where she lived and early one morning he entered her house - wearing a balaclava and gloves and wielding a knife - and carried out a "planned and premeditated" attack.

The night before the woman and her children had been watching television and they all fell asleep in the lounge.

Abraham woke the woman, quickly showing her the knife and indicating she needed to stay quiet.

He threatened to harm her children if she did not comply.

"She got up, she had no choice … she was motivated to protect her children, she didn't know what was going to come," said Judge Bergseng.

Abraham took the woman to her bedroom and told her "I'm here for one thing only".

She begged him to let her shut the door so that the children would not wake and see what he was doing to her.

At the time she was "numb and frightened".

Abraham proceeded to sexually assault her in various ways.

He brought a condom with him and wore it as he raped her.

Wiremu Abraham in the dock during his sentencing at the Manukau District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Wiremu Abraham in the dock during his sentencing at the Manukau District Court. Photo / Brett Phibbs

When he was finished he told her not to move for five minutes - allowing him to get away.

As she pulled her clothing back on she found the used condom which then contained Abraham's DNA.

She went to the police and reported the rape but despite extensive investigations over the years and the DNA profile, her attacker was never identified.

In 2018 Abraham was charged with indecently assaulting a woman he knew.

Police took a DNA sample from him, and when it was added to their database, they got a match to the 2003 cold case.

Detectives from Kaitaia travelled to Auckland to speak to Abraham, who admitted it was "a relief" that they had finally caught up with him.

Judge Bergseng said Abraham's first victim had suffered "significant mental trauma" as a result of the rape.

In her Victim Impact Statement she described the offending as "evil".

"It is impossible to put into words the sheer terror of finding a stranger in your house at night with one clear purpose," she said.

"The chilling words he used at the time: I am here for one thing, take me to your room".

Judge Bergseng said the attack was horrific.

"It doesn't get much worse than she has described," he said.

"Her life from that moment on never returned to normal.

"She was paralysed with fear, paranoid she was constantly being watched."

After sentencing the woman spoke about the moment she heard her rapist had finally been caught.

"There was mixed emotions when he told me the news, my attacker had been identified," she said in a statement provided to the Herald.

"I told him I felt like I had won Lotto but there was no new car or new house to go with it.

"Instead I had to go back to July 2003 all over again."

She said her "whole life was rocked" by the rape.

"I literally thought that was it, I was going to die," she said.

"Today is the day I can finally put the last 15 year journey behind me.

"Although it took a long, long time I know that justice has finally been done and I am happy about that.

"I can finally put it all behind me and move on with my life without looking over my shoulder."

Detective Sergeant Mark Dalzell said it was "satisfying to finally get a result in this harrowing case" and he was pleased to "finally be able to provide some closure" to the survivor.

He has worked on the case since 2003.

"I have been a police officer for over 30 years and this was one of the unsolved cases that stuck in the back of my mind and I couldn't let go," he told the Herald.

"We promised our victim that we would not close the case and we were determined to eventually solve it.

"I want to acknowledge and thank the victim in this case for her support and cooperation ... she has shown tremendous resolve through this time."

Dalzell also wanted to acknowledge the efforts of the police staff who worked on the case over 15 years.

"We want offenders to know that we will continue to work hard on our unsolved cases and you will eventually be caught."

At sentencing the court heard that Abraham had written a letter expressing his "genuine" regret and remorse.

He said he could not repair the damage he had caused but he was sorry.

Members of his family were in court to support him and wept as the details of the violations were read - including graphic descriptions - by Judge Bergseng.

The court heard they had not forgiven Abraham but had vowed to support him and assist him in his rehabilitation when he was released from prison.

Apart from the sex attacks in 2013 and 2018 Abraham has never been before the courts.

He had worked for the last 12 years at a major supermarket and before his arrest, was a supervisor.

His lawyer described Abraham's arrest as "a huge fall from grace".

Abraham also cried in court and was told off by the judge for calling out to his family.

"Thank you for your support, much appreciated," he said before he was quieted.

Judge Bergseng was skeptical about Abraham's remorse, saying it was more likely he was sorry and emotional because he had been caught.

"You did everything you could not to be apprehended … but you accidentally left your condom at the house," he said.

SEXUAL HARM - DO YOU NEED HELP?

• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​

• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on: ll 0800 044 334 or text 4334

• Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.

• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.