A MAN who terrorised an elderly woman when he broke into her Tamworth home and indecently assaulted her has been jailed for five years.
The Chief Judge of the District Court, Judge Reg Blanch, was scathing in his summation of Jonathan Ian Haines, as he handed down the sentence in a Sydney court late last week – more than 18 months on from the offence which rocked the local community.
The case shocked local police and the wider community, sparking a manhunt and safety concerns among a number of elderly residents across Tamworth.
The 81-year-old woman wasn’t injured but was left shaken and traumatised by the ordeal when Haines broke into her Bell St home.
Just after midnight on November 29, 2012, the elderly woman was asleep when she woke to find Haines standing over her.
He then indecently assaulted her before fleeing on foot.
Police poured a number of resources into the manhunt and issued several public appeals to find the offender before detectives made a breakthrough.
It came after DNA evidence was traced on items in the home, linking Haines to the scene.
In May last year, Tamworth detectives travelled to Wellington to interview Haines before they laid three charges.
The 19-year-old was originally committed to stand trial on attempted rape and aggravated break-and-enter and commit serious indictable offence in company charges after his defence solicitor argued in a Tamworth court it was a “weak” case that was “based on evidence from a co-offender”.
At the time, the court was told the extensive brief of evidence contained forensic evidence and statements and a local court magistrate said it was “a strong Crown case ... based on DNA evidence”.
Following negotiations with prosecutors this year, Haines reversed his pleas and pleaded guilty to aggravated indecent assault and aggravated break-and-enter.
He has been in custody since his arrest in May 2013 and the plea means the elderly woman won’t have to take the stand in a trial which was slated for October this year.
In sentencing, Haines was dealt a three-year, non-parole sentence, meaning he could be eligible for release in July 2016 with time already served.