A judge has described the actions of a Masterton woman as “cruel”, saying some people may even consider them “pure evil”.
Holly Danielle Taua, 34, stole a woman’s dog and car, before returning days later to ransack the victim’s house and steal her most valuable and sentimental possessions.
Yesterday in Masterton District Court, Judge Barbara Morris sentenced Taua to 18 months in prison.
But after the sentencing the victim, who does not want to be named, said she thought the penalty should have been harsher.
“She took my whole life,” she told the Times-Age.
“Eighteen months is pathetic – a bloody joke.”
The victim had only been living in Masterton for three weeks when Taua turned up at her door in May.
Taua said her aunty used to live in the same house and asked the victim if she could rent a room.
The victim, 50, said Taua could move in as a flatmate.
The next morning, the victim woke up to find her car and her 16-year-old dog Yogi gone.
Three days later the victim returned home to discover her home had been ransacked and a vault bolted to the floor, containing treasured items, had been taken.
She read aloud her victim impact statement in court, saying jewellery that had been passed down by six generations was stolen.
She was now too scared to be on her own and left the Wairarapa region every weekend to try to escape the trauma and “have some sort of sanity”.
“I do not sleep at night, I cry every day,” the victim said.
Since the burglary, her mental health had suffered, she was now on medication, and had been forced to resign from her job as an accountant.
Her vehicle valued at $19,000 was used to flee the police before being written off by Taua in a crash on May 12.
Passports and birth certificates of the victim and her two children were also taken, as was her son’s first lock of hair and a charm bracelet she had saved up for when she was six-years-old.
Taua pleaded guilty to 19 charges.
Eight were connected to the May burglary, vehicle and dog theft, and police pursuit.
Judge Morris said Taua had breached the trust of the victim, “rifling through her house” and taking her “extremely treasured dog” which was fortunately later found alive and well on the side of the road by a ranger.
The judge said while the stolen items had a total value of $20,000, many of them were sentimental and priceless.
“This cruel theft has not only hurt [the victim] but her family.”
Some may consider Taua’s actions as “pure evil”, Judge Morris said.
Taua had made “no effort” to return any of the items she had stolen.
Judge Morris noted that Taua had stolen petrol after filling up the stolen vehicle the weekend following the burglary.
She had also put other people’s lives at risk by driving around a roundabout on the wrong side of the road, and travelling at 90kmh in a 50kmh zone while trying to evade police.
Taua eventually crashed the car, in which police found methamphetamine.
Judge Morris noted that Taua’s childhood had not been easy, having been abused from aged three and then put into state care at aged 11 after stabbing her abuser.
Her lawyer, Ian Hard said Taua, who had been in custody for 160 days, had been using her time in prison “wisely” by re-educating herself with courses, such as learning te reo Maori.
On top of the prison sentence, Taua was disqualified from driving for a year and ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counselling.
Taua interrupted Judge Morris numerous times during the sentence, saying the court system “dragged” matters out and did little to help offenders stay away from a life in crime.