Cliff Hlewka says he didn’t sleep for more than a year after a violent home invasion – but he is now pleased a man involved will be spending time behind bars.

Dustin Sand received a six-year sentence on Thursday for the crime which sent Hlewka to hospital. Sand was also sentenced to nine years for manslaughter for planning a fatal October 2015 home invasion on Garrison Crescent, and a concurrent seven-year sentence for that home invasion itself.

“With Dustin being sentenced we’re pleased. I really wasn’t expecting to get the six, I really thought he would get less but I’m so happy he got the six,” Hlewka said.

It was just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 12, 2015, when Hlewka said he saw three men get out of a vehicle outside his home near the town of Macdowell, 30 kilometres southwest of Prince Albert.

Because of a yellow stripe on the car and on one of the men’s legs, Hlewka said he and his wife, Judy, thought they were RCMP officers, so he told her to let them in.

“I heard a sound and I looked and the kitchen door was partially closed and when I opened it someone grabbed the back of my head and I got bear-sprayed that’s when I went down to fight. I got into a scrap, I thought I was fighting two but Judy says I was fighting three and I was giving as good as I got.”

Hlewka, then 75-years-old, said he grabbed a .22 rifle from the porch and hit one of the men in the stomach. Hlewka said his attackers gained the upper hand. One of the men stood on his neck, strangling him, and Hlewka said he thought he would die.

“I took more than I gave at the end of the day, I got about 200 stitches in my head, broke a cheek bone, my bridge is broken.”

Hlewka said the intruders focused on taking his valuable coin jewelry and collection - but his daughter managed to scoop the criminals’ bag of loot, lock herself in her room and call 911.

“Those guys had the nerve to sit out there and wait until they saw the flashing blue police lights, that’s when they took off.”

The intruders ended up only taking a small case of cassettes, Hlweka said.

In a written sentencing decision Justice Richard Danyliuk noted that Sand was identified by his fingerprints on the door and inside the home and by his blood on Hlewka’s sleeve and that Sand wasn’t previously known to Hlewka and his family.

Danyliuk said the incident was “highly traumatizing” to the three residents, and while it is difficult to pinpoint Sand’s exact role in the crime, he was an active participant.