Justin Ames JOHNSTON - 27/06/2016

Parole hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Justin Ames JOHNSTON

Hearing: 27 June 2016 via AVL from [withheld] Community Corrections to [withheld] Prison

Members of the Board:
Hon. M A Frater – Panel Convenor
Dr J Skipworth
Mr J Thomson
Mr D Hauraki


1. We saw Justin Ames Johnston today for what was effectively his first parole hearing.

2. He was sentenced to preventive detention on 13 December 2013 and becomes eligible to be released on parole on the 19th of next month.

3. The sentence of preventive detention was imposed after he was found guilty at trial of attempted sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.  The brief facts as we understand them are that Mr Johnston was found in a garden in [withheld] outside a sleep-out occupied by a 16 year old young woman.

4. He strenuously denies intending to commit a sexual offence and has gone through two trials.  He is currently awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court hearing in February but told us that even if the decision went against him he would continue to fight in the Courts to have the conviction overturned.

5. Mr Johnston acknowledges a long history of offending from the age of 14.  He has over 120 previous convictions, mainly for property/dishonesty offending.  His first prison sentence was imposed in 1988.  His history also includes convictions for sexual offending in 1993 and 1994.

6. The 1993 conviction was for the crime of rape.  He broke into the 26 year old victim’s flat.  He pleaded guilty to this crime after he was linked to it by DNA profiling.  The 1994 convictions related to a 15 year old girl he abducted from her home and raped.  Both victims were strangers to him.

7. Mr Johnston was realistic in not seeking parole today.  He does not have a release plan.

8. We talked to him about the parole assessment and psychological reports prepared in anticipation of the hearing.  He has issues with both.

9. He chose not to engage with the psychologist who wrote the psychological report and challenges his conclusions.  We note that Corrections sought to retract that report but we have chosen to take it into account as we are entitled to do, bearing in mind not only Mr Johnston’s election not to engage in the assessment process, but also his claim that he is innocent of the index offence.

10. Mr Johnston has undertaken a considerable amount of individual treatment over the years – between 1997 and 1999, 2005 and 2006 and, more recently, between June and October last year when he developed a relapse prevention plan and discussed his High Risk situations with [withheld].

11. Mr Johnston expressed reservations about undertaking the recommended Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme, but did not entirely close the door to doing so.  He made it clear that if he agreed to undertake it, it would be because he saw it as useful, not because he was required to undertake it.

12. The Parole Board does not punish an offender.  Punishment is imposed by the Courts.  Our role is set out in sections 7 and 28 of the Parole Act 2002.  Section 28 precludes the Board from releasing an offender on parole unless we can be satisfied that he will not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community during the remainder of his sentence.  In Mr Johnston’s case, as he has been sentenced to preventive detention, that means for the rest of his life.

13. At this stage and on the information available to us, we cannot be satisfied that Mr Johnston will meet this test in the foreseeable future.  Obviously the legal process needs to come to an end, then, if the current conviction and sentence are upheld, he will have to address his offending and formulate a strong release plan.  On the best case scenario that will all take a considerable time.

14. Accordingly, parole is declined.  Mr Johnston’s next hearing will be in May 2018 and, in any event, before the end of that month.

15. We give him notice that the issue of postponement will also be on the table at that stage.  He has the right to consult a lawyer in respect of that matter and to have that person make written and/or oral submissions on his behalf.

Hon. M A Frater
Panel Convenor