A Greymouth woman has told a court she thought she was going to die during a home invasion by retired soldier George Robert Tweedy in May.
Reading her victim impact statement in the Queenstown District Court on Monday, the woman described the terror she felt when she awoke to find Tweedy (60), a former New Zealand Army major, pointing a rifle at her face.
A short time later, after he had stopped her from running out of the house, he put a belt around her neck and applied pressure.
”I honestly thought I was going to die on the floor of my own home.”
She scratched his ankle to get his DNA on her hands so people would know who had killed her.
Besides her physical injuries, which included extensive bruising, strangulation marks on her neck, and a broken toe for which she still needed crutches, the incident had caused severe and lasting mental trauma.
She suffered from nightmares, anxiety and severe PTSD on a daily basis, and was terrified by the prospect of his release from prison.
”I worry he will come back and finish the job.”
The offending began at 10.27pm on May 10, when Tweedy went to the victim’s home armed with what turned out to be a replica M16 military-style semi-automatic rifle.
A protection order had been in place against him since January 15.
More than two hours after the break-in, she managed to calm him down sufficiently that he allowed her to make him a cup of tea and a sandwich.
When he went to the toilet, she raised the alarm by messaging a friend and sending a photo of the rifle.
While armed police were on their way to the house, Tweedy left and drove to Cromwell, where he was arrested without incident.
In July, he admitted charges of aggravated burglary, physically abusing a protected person and strangulation.
After serving for 27 years in the British Army and 15 with the New Zealand Defence Force, he retired from the military late last year.
Defence counsel Michael Walker said Tweedy felt genuine remorse about his actions and the impact they have had on the victim.
Judge Russell Walker said a psychiatrist’s report concluded the defendant had experienced ”significant trauma” during his military career.
However, in a home invasion like a ”stealth, military-like operation”, he had inflicted similar trauma on the victim.
After making deductions for Tweedy’s guilty pleas, expressions of remorse, and good character before the imposition of the protection order, and allowing for the five months he had already spent in custody, Judge Walker came to a term of 23 months’ prison.
That was converted to 12 months’ home detention at a Waitati property to allow him to undergo rehabilitative treatment.
He must pay the victim $2500 reparation for emotional harm, and is subject to special conditions for 12 months after his release.