A serial offender who robbed a seriously injured woman lying in a wrecked car has been granted permanent name suppression because a judge fears his rehabilitation could be at risk if he is identified.
And at the Manukau District Court on Friday Judge David McNaughton - who granted bail to Christie Marceau's killer and also famously booted journalists from his courtroom during the Kim Dotcom case - used an example of a Herald story which he claimed led to an armed crime spree.
In his finding he said the offender's alcohol and drug rehabilitation would be severely compromised if his name was published.
"If the opportunity to enter and complete the [Odyssey House] programme is lost due to publication of the defendant's identity, I consider that would amount to extreme hardship to the defendant and likely to lead to further repetition of the cycle of substance abuse, mental health issues and criminal offending," Judge McNaughton said, having already sentenced the man to 12 months' imprisonment last month.
The Herald opposed applications by the man's lawyer, Devon Kemp, for permanent name suppression and a take-down order for previous stories about the case.
At sentencing, however, Judge McNaughton said he hadn't read any of the material filed by the Herald and on Friday criticised the paper saying it was "unrealistic to expect a judge to digest all of this material in preparation for a sentencing".
In his written name suppression decision, the judge went on to claim a Weekend Herald story last year directly led to an offender quitting rehabilitation and subsequently going on an armed robbery and crime spree.
The story was about fraudsters Rose Te Raumahi Hira and Adam Matthew Deed and detailed how the pair posed as hospital staff and school visitors to steal credit cards from medical staff and teachers, before spending more than $50,000 on jewellery and other items.
Judge McNaughton said he had been monitoring Deed, who was sentenced to imprisonment, through a long treatment programme at Odyssey House.
"Two days after sentencing was adjourned, a front page article describing the defendant's offending appeared together with his photograph. There was no reference to the defendant undertaking treatment," the judge said.
He then claimed as a "direct result" of the story Deed immediately left the treatment programme.
"He was in breach of his bail and on the run from the police for some time. During that period he committed a serious armed robbery and other offences and was subsequently sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment," the judge continued.
Judge McNaughton said "a similar impact" may occur for the man who robbed Shevaughn Johnstone after her crash with a truck in Papakura in November last year.
"I am concerned that publication of the [thief's] identity could have a similar impact in this case given the nature of the defendant's offending which the New Zealand Herald have highlighted more than once and no doubt will do so again if the application to suppress the defendant's identity is declined."
Judge McNaughton also said, if the man's name was published, it may force his mum to quit her well-known position and a community organisation could fold.
"There is real force in the suggestion that her reputation may be completely undone if her son's offending were widely publicised ... she may well be forced to resign and that the [community organisation] itself could then collapse," he said, making his decision after considering an affidavit written by the defendant's mother.
Judge McNaughton also claimed the offending was of "no particular public interest".
"The only newsworthy aspect of this story is the vulnerability of the victim," he commented.
The nameless criminal posed as someone trying to help Johnstone before rifling through her handbag, stealing her phone and wallet.
After fleeing the scene before emergency services arrived, the offender, who was breaching an intensive supervision sentence at the time, spent more than $500 on Johnstone's credit cards.
Paramedics were unable to identify Johnstone at the scene of the crash and her husband, who later wrote a scathing post about the offender on Facebook, could not be contacted.
The thief had been in custody since mid-January, following several failures to appear in court, but was released from his sentence on July 19 with time already served.
He has also been convicted of driving while disqualified, drink driving, breaching community work, failing to answer bail, and providing false details.
The Herald will appeal Judge McNaughton's decision to permanently suppress the man's name.