Not jury's role to 'keep streets safe'

Last updated 12:51 05/07/2013
Justin Ames Johnston
JUSTIN AMES JOHNSTON: On trial for attempted sexual violation.

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A jury has been warned not to find a repeat rapist guilty of another crime so it can clean up the streets.

"You must not convict him because you think he is dangerous. It is not your role to keep the streets safe," Justice Jill Mallon said in the High Court at Wellington today.

Justin Ames Johnston, 43, is on trial charged with attempted sexual violation of a 16-year-old girl who stayed in a sleepout behind her family's Upper Hutt home.

Johnston has pleaded not guilty.

The Crown said Johnston had been watching the property for several days.

Justice Mallon told the jury that they had to be sure he was on the property to sexually violate the occupant of the sleepout that night.

Before any harm could come to the girl on July 19, 2010, her father saw Johnston near the sleepout and chased him.

Johnston has not given evidence but his lawyer told the jury that it was more likely that Johnston was at the property to steal.

However, several expensive items in the open garage had not been touched.

The Crown was allowed to call evidence of Johnston twice breaking into houses and raping females, in 1993 and 1994.

The jury was also given a list of his dishonesty offences, including many burglaries committed when he was a teenager.

Johnston was released from prison in 2009. The jury has been told that where he was to live after his release was the subject of controversy in the media.

Police were also trying to monitor him.

Two witnesses, one who was in prison with Johnston in 2006 and another who was at the same boarding house in late 2009, said Johnston spoke of his plans to abduct and rape a teenage girl.

The defence said both witnesses were unreliable. The Crown said it showed Johnston's sexual fascination with adolescent girls did not dim during the years he was in prison.

The jury has retired to consider its verdict.

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- The Dominion Post

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