|Justin Ames Johnston|
A two-time rapist has received an indefinite jail term for the attempted sexual violation of a teenage girl.Let me tell you about Justin Ames Johnston. But be warned, some of this is not pretty.
Justin Ames Johnston, 41, has been sentenced in the High Court at Wellington to preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of six years.
I first came across Justin in about early 1992. I was working a night shift on the North Shore of Auckland, and about 3am in the morning we followed a stolen car from Devonport heading towards Takapuna. We then chased it and after a few minutes the occupants pulled over and ran off into the harbour. We caught them all. Johnston admitted to stealing the car.
He was a "nothing" of a human being. Quite a small man. In fact back then he was just a boy - probably about 20. He was very quiet and meek. My first impression was he was new to all this and petrified after being caught driving a stolen car. I was very wrong.
When I processed him, his criminal record was something else. Page after page after page. Almost 90 convictions, from the youth court through to district court. He stole cars, committed burglaries and wrote dud cheques. You'd have never picked it.
He caught the attention of all of us and our section at the time made a conscious decision to "watch” him. That essentially meant monitoring his movements and generally giving him a hard time. He was obviously an active criminal.
My next recollection of Johnston was a few months later when I was off duty. I was driving slowly along a suburban street, and a car came from the opposite direction. As you do when you're a young, keen, police officer, you pay attention. The driver was Johnston. Yet it wasn’t his Mitisbushi Mirage with the distinctive personalised plate "Magic J", but something different. I hadn’t seen him in that car before, and as a good young cop should do, I turned around, followed him, and noted the registration plate. At the very least it could be recorded in the Intel system so we would then know what other cars he was driving. When I checked it at work a day or so later, it came back as stolen. I got him a few days later when he came in to sign on bail for some other charges he was facing.
Some months later on a nightshift, his car was never outside his house. If you’ve never worked then it’s a pretty good bet that if you’re not at home in the early hours of each morning, you’re out finding money from somewhere. And sure enough, later that week we got him, and stopped him, and some mates, in a car after breaking into houses in Omaha (North of Auckland) and stealing TVs, stereos etc. They all faced numerous burglary charges.
By this time I was convinced Johnston was set for more serious crime. He was on a spree, and during this period he was also caught peeping into a bathroom where a 16yr old girl was taking a shower.
Then came the rape.
I worked an early shift that morning in late 1993. The victim lived only a few hundred metres from Johnston and awoke to a man laying on her and tying her up. After raping her, Johnston stole her TV and Video and took off in Magic J, which was parked around the corner. But strangely the detectives could not pin anything on him. I was convinced it was him and some weeks later stopped him in Magic J wearing identical tracksuit trousers to the offender, and also a distinctive ring the offender was wearing. I took Johnston in on a warrant that was outstanding for him; took a photograph with the tracksuit trousers on; and kept the ring. I showed all this to the Ds. But still there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him.
It turned out to be very bad news he remained at large, because some months later, a young girl in Glenfield (16 or so) was abducted from her home; driven to a remote location and then raped and sodomised repeatedly.
Johnston wouldn’t be so lucky this time. He was nabbed quickly and spent 12 years in jail for the crime. But that was after a horrific trial where he made the victim give evidence for three days and relay every detail of that horrific night.
I left the police in the mid 1990’s but Johnston never left me.
In the early 2000’s, while Johnston was in jail serving time for the Glenfield rape, I was contacted by a detective who asked me about the 1993 rape and whether I remembered it. Of course I did. It turned out that as DNA technology had improved, they got a small sample from a cigarette butt left behind at the scene and it was that of Johnston’s. The police wanted me to give evidence of my stopping him with the ring on and the tracksuit trousers. I couldn’t wait.
But Johnston realised the game was up and plead guilty. He got a few more years in jail for that one, until his release in 2009. And so it was with great interest I read about him in the Herald:
In December last year, Johnston was found guilty of attempted sexual violation of the teenager.Classic Johnston.
The father of the girl discovered Johnston in the backyard the Upper Hutt property where the 16-year-old was alone in a sleepout.
Johnston claimed to have been on the suburban section intending to commit a burglary.
However, the jury of six men and six women returned a unanimous guilty verdict.
Johnston had also changed his plea to guilty on a second charge - threatening to do grievous bodily harm to the girl's father.
As the father went outside to get wood for his fire on July 19 last year, he found Johnston lurking near the sleepout and chased him, grabbing him as he tried to scale a fence.
The father put Johnston in an armlock and then applied a choker hold. But when Johnston produced a garden fork and threatened him, the father let go.
A police dog tracked Johnston through the neighbourhood and located him.
The trial was told Johnston had two rape convictions and more than two dozen for burglary.
If there is a dictionary definition of “evil”, the name Justin Ames Johnston should appear after it. He is a very, very dangerous man and should never get out.
If there ever was a candidate for three strikes, Magic J is it. I doubt he’ll see the light of day again, because he is not capable of reforming himself.
As the slang in downtown Los Angeles might go, he is one bad MOFO.