A serial offender convicted of robbing a seriously injured crash victim can finally be named after the Herald challenged his bid for permanent name suppression.

It can today be revealed that Danny Leef is the person who took the opportunity to rob a woman of her wallet and iPhone just moments after helping her in a car crash in Papakura during November 2017.

Danny Leef can now be named, more than a year after he was sentenced for his crimes. Photo / Supplied
Danny Leef can now be named, more than a year after he was sentenced for his crimes. Photo / Supplied

He then went on a spending spree over the next several hours using Shevaughn Johnstone's credit card.

Johnstone, meanwhile, was unable to be identified by paramedics because her ID was in her wallet.


Enraged, her partner posted CCTV images of Leef on Facebook using the stolen credit card at a service station and referred to him as "a piece of sh*t" and "a heartless piece of crap".

The post was shared more than 15,000 times and drew crude and critical remarks about Leef's actions and his character.

Focus: Danny Leef arrested after injured woman robbed.

Leef was arrested and Judge David McNaughton later sentenced him to 12 months' imprisonment but also decided to permanently suppress his name last August.

The decision, which came despite written opposition from the Herald, was based on the judge's belief publication could severely compromise Leef's alcohol and drug rehabilitation at Odyssey House.

He said a news story naming the crook could also damage his mum's reputation and the urban marae, Te Tahawai Marae, which the Leef family were intimately connected to.

Danny Leef robbed Shevaughn Johnstone after she was seriously injured in a car crash. Photo / Supplied
Danny Leef robbed Shevaughn Johnstone after she was seriously injured in a car crash. Photo / Supplied

When making his ruling, Judge McNaughton drew on his "direct experience" with defendants undertaking substance abuse programmes.

He claimed a fraudster, whom the judge had been monitoring, quit treatment at the clinic and went on an armed crime spree "as a direct result" of a Weekend Herald front-page story.

The Herald later revealed Judge McNaughton had been a member of the Odyssey House board of trustees since September 2013, while Te Tahawai Marae has also hosted the clinic.


Judge McNaughton left the Odyssey House board in March this year.

The judge also said the associated loss of confidence in Leef's mother and the Marae might force her to resign leading to the Marae's collapse.

The Herald challenged the gag order in the High Court, while its reporting of the case was criticised by New Zealand Bar Association president Clive Elliott QC for what he called a "vindictive" and "personal" attack on a judge.

On appeal, however, Justice Timothy Brewer ruled in favour of the newspaper and quashed the suppression order.

He said hardship from publication may only arise if Leef actually attended the rehab clinic - which he did not.

Judge McNaughton had also erred, Justice Brewer said, by not seeking the views of Johnstone, who was vehemently opposed to suppression.

"She was entitled to have her views taken into account by the judge, and he had an obligation to at least inquire as to what they were," Justice Brewer said.

Leef's offending on other charges had also been suppressed, which Justice Brewer found no reason for.

Leef was further convicted of driving while disqualified, drink driving, breaching community work, failing to answer bail, and providing false details.

Publication, Justice Brewer ruled, would not likely cause Leef, his mum or the Marae extreme hardship.

"I acknowledge that [Leef's mother] is now likely to gain more publicity than before but that will not come as a bombshell given his criminal history."

Justice Timothy Brewer said Judge David McNaughton should've asked what the victim's views were. Photo / Andrew Warner
Justice Timothy Brewer said Judge David McNaughton should've asked what the victim's views were. Photo / Andrew Warner

Despite the ruling, Leef took the case for secrecy to the Court of Appeal.

But this time the argument was largely based on the potential harm publication could cause Te Tahawai Marae.

New Zealand's second highest court, however, again ruled in favour of the Herald.

"In our view, and as [Justice] Brewer implicitly concluded, we think [Judge McNaughton] went too far when reaching his conclusions," Justices Denis Clifford, Geoffrey Venning and Rachel Dunningham said.

"Whilst we can understand Mrs Leef's disappointment with her son's offending, and her worry that it may in some way impact adversely on her and the Marae ... we are not persuaded that is a likely consequence or that, even if there were some negative publicity attached, it would be likely to cause the extreme hardship required in order to grant name suppression."

Leef was released from custody on July 19 last year with time already served for his 12 months prison sentence.

Johnstone said she was "thrilled" Leef could finally be named.

She thought Judge McNaughton's decision to grant suppression was "pathetic" and was pleased the Herald had fought so hard against the decision.

"(Judge McNaughton) protected the offender and not the victim," she said.

"My name was everywhere due to him robbing me and doing such a disgusting thing to a vulnerable person, and his name was protected.

"That was so unfair, it was bullsh*t."

Johnstone said the public had a right to know what a "shameful, horrible person" Leef is.

"He is a grown man and chose to do what he did to me that day," she said.

"The public need to know as some may think he's this great person and may actually be friends with him not knowing what kind of person he is... he's not going to tell anyone that he robbed an injured girl is he?

"At least they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to be associated with such a horrible person.

"He should have been named and shamed from the get go, how it got this far is beyond me."

Johnstone said the prolonged court case had impacted on her significantly.

"Had the justice system done it's job from the get go, I would not be reliving this almost two years down the line," she said.

"He should have accepted responsibility when he was finally caught and allowed for his name to be out there, and by now it would all be over.

"Hopefully this will also show other people that by doing these types of horrible things the truth will come out, and it will make them think twice before they try anything that could become public and let every one know who they are."