Phil Taylor is a Weekend Herald and New Zealand Herald senior staff writer.

Rape victim: innocent man in jail

Teina Pora
Teina Pora

A woman attacked by serial rapist Malcolm Rewa two weeks before Auckland woman Susan Burdett was murdered says she believes Rewa was Ms Burdett's killer and that an innocent man has spent 20 years in jail.

Teina Pora, a 16-year-old car thief, was convicted in 1994 of Ms Burdett's rape and murder, while Rewa was convicted of her rape four years later.

"There are so many reasons I can see based on my experience and what I know of both cases that make it really impossible for me to believe that Pora was even there," the woman told TV3 show Third Degree last night.

The woman was abducted by Rewa as she returned to her car in Parnell after a night out in March 1992. "I can still remember how painful it was. It was like nothing I'd ever imagined. Nothing," she said.

"Based on how hard I'd been hit and how much pain I was in, I hate to think if I'd had to suffer any more blows to the head I might not be sitting here."

She said it was clear Rewa wanted complete physical control and no engagement. "And so I gave him what he wanted and that very possibly saved my life.

"To me it's perfectly logical that if somebody at that level of violence at that time, that if someone had fought back, like Susan Burdett, that they would end up potentially dead."

She wanted to see Rewa tried again for Ms Burdett's murder. Rewa was smart enough to get away with multiple attacks for many years, to avoid leaving fingerprints and, after DNA evidence became admissible, to avoid leaving semen, she said. "And ... he has an erectile dysfunction issue. I don't believe there is a guy on this planet that would believe a guy like that [would] be prepared to have somebody else find out."

The show also revealed that before Pora's first trial police believed Burdett was attacked by a serial rapist but did not disclose this to Pora's lawyers. Mark Williams, a senior detective, had "concluded" as early as 1992 that the same unknown man was responsible for three earlier rapes and that he thought he was also Burdett's attacker. He asked the ESR to compare crime scene samples that year and in 1993 specifically asked for a DNA comparison.

Rewa was eventually linked by DNA to all four attacks but the only known record of confirmation of a DNA link is dated May 1995, the year after Pora was convicted.

Criminal Bar Association president Tony Bouchier, a former detective, told the show the fact these inquiries were under way "certainly should have been disclosed". It could have been grounds to have Pora's trial adjourned pending the results.

Assistant commissioner Malcolm Burgess told the show that in his view the relevant known evidence at the time was presented to both Pora juries and he didn't accept it was time for a police review.

Mr Burgess said some Crown witnesses who gave evidence had received reward money for information. He said police record-keeping about this was "not as precise as perhaps it should have been".

The back story

• Teina Pora was convicted in 1994 of raping and murdering Susan Burdett in her home. He was convicted again at a retrial in 2000. New expert evidence suggests he may have been convicted on a false confession. An increasing number of experts and some former senior police officers believe he is innocent. He is preparing to appeal to the Privy Council.

• Malcolm Rewa was convicted in 1998 of raping Ms Burdett after his semen was found at the scene. Two juries could not reach a decision about whether he murdered her. Rewa is serving preventive detention for attacks on 25 women.

• TV3 show Third Degree last night revealed that police did not disclose before Pora's first trial that inquiries were under way to link Ms Burdett's rapist and killer with a serial offender who had raped three other women. The police said they were confident all relevant, admissible evidence was disclosed.

- NZ Herald

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