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  • Hugh has practised as a criminal lawyer for more than 30 years and specialises in jury trials and serious criminal matters.
  • He has appeared as counsel in over 300 jury trials and his particular areas of focus are trials of a sexual nature and charges under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • He represents clients across a wide range of charges from assault to murder.
  • Hugh regularly presents seminars for the New Zealand Law Society and is a faculty member of the Litigation Skills Programme.
  • Hugh was a NZLS Standards Committee member for five years and is currently a member of the NZLS interview panel.
  • In his heyday, he was a national representative squash player.
  • Legal aid categorisation:  PAL 1-4

Hugh Leabourn predominantly defends in all aspects of criminal law. He is known for his friendly manner, attention to detail and jury appeal.

Hugh was admitted to the bar in 1988 and has been practising law in New Zealand ever since, other than a short period of travel overseas. He began his career working at Meredith Connell, the office of the Auckland Crown Solicitor.  Hugh left the Crown in 1998 as a senior prosecutor and joined the defence bar, specialising exclusively in criminal law.  He remains on the Crown prosecution panel.

During his time with the Crown Solicitor’s office Hugh undertook a wide range of work including departmental prosecutions and jury trials.  When Hugh left the Crown he had completed in excess of 140 jury trials in both the District and High Courts.  He appeared as Crown counsel in a number of serious homicide, drugs and assault cases and as second counsel assisting senior prosecutors where necessary.

His trial experience at the defence bar spans two decades and includes offences such as murder, manslaughter serious violence, aggravated robberies, sexual offences, major drugs cases and fraud.  Some examples of these have been:

  • R v C where the accused was charged with the murder of his partner following a large fire;
  • R v T where the accused was charged with the murder of two people following a fight at a New Year’s celebration south of Auckland;
  • R v McS where the accused was charged with the murder of his wife on Auckland’s North Shore;
  • Rv W where the accused was charged with the murder of an acquaintance at a street party.

Hugh has also been involved in numerous multi-accused drugs operations throughout his time as a defence lawyer including Operation Mexico, Operation Illusion, Operation Webb, Operation Domino, Operation Leo, Operation Flower, Operation Twickers and Operation Cincinnati.  He has assisted many senior barristers as second counsel on the same range of matters.

Hugh represents clients in all courts and provides a full and dedicated service to both privately funded and legally aided cases.

Hugh’s experience and knowledge of criminal law has equipped him to provide well balanced and skilful representation to many hundreds of clients over the years. He meticulously prepares for his cases and is known as an accomplished advocate who goes the extra mile to get the best possible outcome for his clients.