13 Dec 2013

Sex offender refuses to be at sentencing

6:55 pm on 13 December 2013

A repeat sexual offender sentenced to preventive detention for planning an attack on an Upper Hutt teenager has refused to appear in court during the hearing.

A judge in the High Court in Wellington ordered Justin Johnston, 43, to spend at least six years in jail on a charge of attempted sexual violation.

In July 2010, Johnston was seen lurking near a sleep-out occupied by a 16-year-old girl and cigarette butts found nearby suggested that he had been keeping watch there for some time.

At the end of 2011 a jury convicted him, but he was granted a retrial by the Court of Appeal. That led to another guilty verdict in July this year.

Johnston has already served 15 years in jail for two earlier rapes and the offence for which he was sentenced on Friday occurred shortly after his release.

Justice Mallon said on Friday that pre-sentence reports suggested he was at a high risk of reoffending, especially sexually, and was assessed as having a low motivation to change his behaviour.

"Mr Johnston's offending has caused serious harm to the community. The offending is of a serious kind, it is of sexual violence directed against young women who are targeted within their own homes where they are entitled to feel safe, and is of a kind which has lasting emotional and psychological impacts."

Johnston's lawyer, Val Nisbet, said his client maintains his innocence, believes the trial was a sham and has vowed to fight his conviction until the day he dies.