Dunedin woman avoids jail over honey trap

A Dunedin woman who orchestrated a honey trap to rob a recently bereaved widower has avoided a prison term.

Elana Jane Robins (27) appeared in the Dunedin District Court this morning on a range of charges including aggravated robbery and blackmail where she was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention.

Judge Peter Rollo said the extensive efforts she had made to change her life meant it would be wrong to lock her up.

Robins connected with the robbery victim online following the death of his wife.

When he disclosed he was looking for a “casual sexual relationship”, she realised his vulnerability could be exploited.

In August last year, Robins’ friend contacted the man claiming she wanted a relationship and they had sex the following day.

The following month she arranged to visit the man’s Mosgiel home again but this time she did not go alone.

When the victim opened the door, he was confronted by the woman, flanked by Robins and a man wearing a bandanna over his face.

The group backed the man into his living room and Robins demanded $6000 “for previously arranging sexual partners for him”.

His refusals to pay up resulted in the male intruder stepping within inches of his face and demanding the man’s car instead.

Robins looked on as her co-offender first pushed the victim then punched him when he refused to hand over the keys.

She then searched the man’s home, taking some of his late wife’s jewellery and other items of sentimental value, and leaving.

However, she later returned shortly after to pick up her female associate and swiped the victim’s car keys, leaving in the stolen vehicle.

Robins’ offending began almost a year earlier.

In October 2019, she befriended a 19-year-old man on Facebook and said she would enter a relationship with him if he paid her rent.

The teen blocked her account but Robins simply established a new profile – and this time her tone changed.

She sent the victim “countless” sinister messages, one of which noted the man’s vehicle registration, and said she knew where he lived.

“Amongst the messages the defendant also sent a photo of a male in gang regalia with a closed fist in a threatening pose,” a police summary said.

The teenager was so scared he paid Robins $2500 over three transactions before contacting police when the aggressive overtures continued.

As well as the aggravated robbery and blackmail, the woman was also convicted of three counts of theft and two of using a document for a pecuniary advantage.

Crown prosecutor Richard Smith noted the defendant had a history of such offending and she was serving a sentence at the time of her most recent crimes.

Her life appeared to be “spiralling out of control” at the time, he said.

The court, however, heard Robins had completed a residential addiction treatment programme in Christchurch on electronically-monitored bail after pleading guilty.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens QC said her client had made “enormous progress made in terms of [her] future prospects”.

Robins, she said, had been forced to confront many of the demons from her past during her rehabilitation.

The way the defendant acted was all learned behaviour based on her history, Mrs Stevens said.

“You exploit people, terrorise people to get your own way.”

Judge Rollo said Robins’ upbringing was clearly the catalyst for her life’s course.

She was born with a significant handicap, became disruptive at school, was ostracised from the mainstream and turned to alcohol and drugs, the court heard.

Robins had saved $5000 which would be paid to her victims.

 

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