David Johnstone


David is a highly experienced trial and appellate lawyer with a focus on criminal prosecutions, appeals and judicial review. This work includes regulatory enforcement and the conduct of civil penalty and recovery proceedings.

His particular specialty is organised (profit-motivated) crime, including drug- and gang-related crime, corruption and immigration fraud, and actions to recover criminal proceeds. David works for enforcement agencies responsible for the anti-money-laundering regime and financial and insurance market supervision. In January 2012, he participated by invitation in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Expert Meeting to draft a model law to implement the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Various prosecutions for murder, including for example the stabbing of a homeless man by his friend in Myers Park, Auckland City, without apparent motive (R v Fahey). 

Acted in "Operation Ark", New Zealand’s largest case on ecstasy substitutes, involving Class B and C controlled drug importing and selling worth over $30 million, 10 defendants, and an 18-week trial in the High Court. This was the most significant case to date on the meaning of 'controlled drug analogue', raising difficult questions of alleged 'vagueness' in legislation and nature of guilty knowledge in drug cases. It involved very considerable Criminal Proceeds actions valued at in excess of $20 million deriving from the criminal investigation.

Acted in the prosecution of former Member of Parliament Taito Phillip Field, from seeking leave to prosecute to a 17-week High Court jury trial, to a Supreme Court conviction appeal. This was extensive, high-profile litigation relating to corruption and bribery. (Burgess v Field, R v Field, Field v R)

LLM(Hons), Cambridge University (United Kingdom)

LLB(Hons)/BCom, University of Auckland