Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Home invader sentenced to nearly 7 years

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A local man was sentenced to prison this morning for what the judge said were "horrible" crimes against unsuspecting families.

Tyson Romaniuk, 33, pleaded guilty to an August 2009 home invasion and an attempted home invasion in March 2011.

Provincial court Judge Lynn Standard accepted the joint Crown and defence counsel recommendation of a six-year, nine-month sentence for the two offences.

"You’re supposed to feel safe in your home and these people can’t do that because of what you did," Stannard told Romaniuk.

These were "horrible offences and I think you’re a very dangerous individual."

Romaniuk had pleaded guilty to charges of robbery with a weapon, forcible confinement, break and enter, and several breaches of bail conditions.

Romaniuk admitted to committing the second home invasion while out on bail for the first one.

The victims in both instances were Vietnamese families who lived in poorer neighbourhoods.

Defence counsel Michelle Bright said Romaniuk and his co-accused targeted the families not because they were Vietnamese but because he had been told there was illegal activities going on in both homes.

No charges were ever brought against the victims.

For the August 2009 charges, Romaniuk and two other individuals broke into a house in the 1200-block of Burrows Avenue after cutting alarm wires.

Once inside, a family of six was ordered to lay on the floor and covered with a blanket. One of the three intruders stood guard while the two others ransacked the house, stealing a TV, jewellery and cash.

The trio fled in the family’s Honda van, which was found abandoned nearby a month later following a tip to Winnipeg Crime Stoppers.

A 11-year-old boy, who was the only one who spoke English, provided a description of the three suspects and he later picked Romaniuk out of a photo line-up and Romaniuk was later arrested during a traffic stop.

Romaniuk was released on bail, which was when he and another man forced their way into a home on William Avenue in March 2011.

In the second attack, Romaniuk and his co-accused, who has yet to face trial on the charges, ended up in separate knife fights with an adult man and his elderly father.

Romaniuk was badly cut in the fight and he and his accomplice fled empty-handed, both getting treatment at the HSC.

Co-incidentally, Romaniuk’s victim was also taken to the HSC by police for a minor knife wound and ended up in a room adjacent to Romaniuk.

Investigating officers seized Romaniuk’s clothing and had it subjected to DNA testing, which returned positive for the blood of the victim.

Bright said Romaniuk was pleading guilty even though the cases against him were weak: She said the police seizure of Romaniuk’s clothing was done without a warrant and, if contested, that evidence might have been thrown out.

Stannard said she was accepting the recommendation of the 6-year, nine-month sentence, adding it could have been much higher.

Stannard said the two families were traumatized by the attack, adding it made no difference if Romaniuk thought illegal drug activity was going on, adding the victims involved young children and the elderly.

Stannard said Romaniuk will have the opportunity to turn his life around but added she wasn’t concerned about his rehabilitation.

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