Rae Portman murder accused pleads not guilty

By Edward Gay, APNZ

Rae Portman. Photo / Supplied
Rae Portman. Photo / Supplied

The man charged with murdering pregnant woman Rae Portman has pleaded not guilty, and will face trial later this year.

Paraire Te Awa appeared briefly at the high Court at Auckland this morning where he entered his plea through his lawyer Peter Kaye.

Mr Kaye said the trial has been set down for four weeks in October.

Te Awa has been remanded in custody.

There were two developments in the police investigation into the disappearance and death of Ms Portman last week.

Police arrested Dean Michael Addison and charged him with kidnapping.

Addison appeared at the Papakura District Court on Thursday. The 36-year-old also faces drugs charges, including possessing and supplying methamphetamine.

Addison's lawyer Mark Ryan applied for name suppression for his client, despite Addison's name already being reported.

Mr Ryan said Addison and his wife - who was also in court - feared for their safety.

Judge Sharon McAuslan asked what the fears were about.

Mr Ryan replied: "Because of the background that Your Honour isn't appraised of at this stage."

Crown prosecutor Anna Pollett opposed the application and said it was in the interests of the police investigation for Addison's name to be reported.

After speaking with Addison's wife, Mr Ryan withdrew his application "so police can carry out their enquiries".

Another man, Lee Rigby, appeared at the Manukau District Court last Wednesday and pleaded guilty to kidnapping Ms Portman.

Portman, 33, was four months pregnant when she went missing. Her body was found when police officers visited an Ardmore farm on the Papakura-Clevedon road in September last year.

It is understood police did not expect to find a body when they visited the farm but became suspicious when they found items, including clothing, belonging to her.

They widened their search to a spot near trees about 300 metres across a paddock, and would say only that the body was found "covered". It is understood it was in an offal pit.

Investigators believe Ms Portman was killed about June 21 after she travelled to the Hamilton suburb of Te Rapa after visiting a Papakura address in Auckland.

Police doubt she returned to the Auckland area alive, but would not say what they found in a distinctive yellow ute that followed her from Papakura to Hamilton, or whether Ms Portman was aware that the ute had followed her to Waikato.

Her movements were traced by tracking her cellphone activity.

- APNZ

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