Harrington Park home invasion: Man spotted walking like a ‘zombie’ before breaking into house

Worried neighbours at a high-end housing estate in western Sydney have spoken of the moment they spotted a man wandering their street “like a zombie” before he broke into a family’s home and became involved in a fight that would end his life.

Johan Schwartz, his wife and their baby daughter had been living in Harrington Park estate for less than two years when the family home they built from the ground up was broken into early yesterday morning.

Mr Schwartz first thought something was wrong just before 8am Sunday morning when his dogs started barking.

It’s believed the 44-year-old dad walked downstairs to find a 35-year-old man, wearing a singlet, shorts and standing barefoot in his lounge room.

Unconfirmed reports from neighbours also claim the home intruder was soaking wet after reportedly going for a swim in the family’s pool before entering the Westwood Court house.

A violent struggle between the pair ensued, resulting in the 35-year-old intruder collapsing and losing consciousness.

Neighbours rushed to help and gave the man CPR and Mr Schwartz’s wife called triple-0 but he couldn’t be saved.

media_cameraJohan Schwartz with his wife and young daughter.

Mr Schwartz spent more than 10 hours at Narellan Police Station yesterday being interrogated by detectives but was released late last night without charge.

Each of the homes on Westwood Court faces Harrington Forest, a protected nature reserve that was once a big selling point for that section of the widespread estate. Now, residents look on the forest with fear rather than admiration.

One resident told news.com.au he saw the 35-year-old home intruder walking through the forest not long before he broke into Mr Schwartz’s home.

The neighbour said he saw the man walking “like a zombie” barefoot through the forest early Sunday morning before the break in happened.

He also witnessed the man crawl under, rather than over, the fencing that lines the nature reserve.

The heavy wooden fencing sits less than a metre from the ground and is lined by spiked bushes and rocks. There are also various paths leading through the forest onto Westwood Court.

News.com.au understands the man, described by police as having a “muscular build”, is local to the area.

media_cameraThe family home on Westwood Court. Picture: Monique Harmer
media_cameraThe homes on Westwood Court face Harrington Forest, a protected nature reserve that was once a big selling point for that section of the widespread estate.

He had a ginger-like moustache and beard, a scar on his left shoulder, and was dressed in a blue sleeveless top and grey knee-length shorts and no shoes.

The man also had a tattoo on his upper left chest reading “true to ourselves is our true honour” and another in a foreign language on the upper inside of his left arm.

Yesterday, neighbour Domenic Lombardo told The Daily Telegraph he’d also spotted the man “breathing heavy and mumbling to himself” before he broke into the home.

Detectives are now working to figure out what the man was doing before he broke into the family’s home, spending the day walking Westwood Court and speaking to neighbours.

Locals living on the same street told news.com.au they were terrified after the incident but praised the man for “doing what he had to do for his family”.

“Our kids are terrified … my 16-year-old daughter was jumping awake all night at any tiny noise she heard. We’re right next to the reserve so it feels very eerie now,” a Westwood Court resident said.

“The kids are asking us ‘when are we putting cameras in, can we get motion sensors?’.

“I really sympathise with the family and the dad. People move to these estates because they’re supposed to be secure but then something like this happens.”

Westwood Court is part of a small section of Harrington Park estate, known as Harrington Grove, that has paid security patrols.

media_cameraForensic officers outside the home at Harrington Park. Picture: Monique Harmer

Residents spoke highly of the security teams and said they were “very visible” in the area often telling them if they’d left doors open and doing laps up and down the quiet, tree-lined streets.

One neighbour said the company was “scrambling” after the fatal home break in.

On its website, Harrington Grove security encourages residents to report any suspicious behaviour.

“The regular security patrols in the community are engaged to mostly act as a deterrent or for minor incidents; police should be called if the situation is urgent or potentially dangerous,” the website reads.

The security company was seen completing hourly patrols on Monday, a day after the fatal fight.

In a press conference yesterday afternoon, Detective Chief Inspector Shane Woolbank said Mr Schwartz was entitled to use “reasonable force” to protect himself and his family.

“Generally people are entitled to their home and they’re entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property,” Mr Woolbank said.

The coroner is conducting a post-mortem today to determine exactly how the man died.

“The autopsy will determine hopefully his cause of death, which will be a significant factor in where we take this investigation. Like any incident that involves the death of a person, it has affected (Mr Schwartz) but he is co-operating,” Mr Woolbank said.

Originally published as Intruder ‘like a zombie’ before fatal fight

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