Teina Pora case: Labour calls for review

Teina Pora
Teina Pora

The Labour Party has joined the chorus of voices calling for urgent attention to be paid to the case of Teina Pora, who is now into his 21st year in prison for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

In an unprecedented move, the Police Association earlier this week called for an independent inquiry into the case - the first such request in at least 16 years.

Labour's justice spokesman Andrew Little said there was now nothing stopping Justice Minister Judith Collins from setting up an inquiry into the case, and in light of the Police Association's position, she should now give the issue her urgent attention.

"There is overwhelming evidence in the public arena that Teina Pora's conviction is unsafe and that a miscarriage of justice has been done.

"Just as overwhelming is the growing number of calls for a genuinely independent inquiry into the conviction, and when the Police Association representing rank and file police officers supports those calls, then they must be taken seriously."

Ms Collins had said she could not do anything because there might be an appeal to the Privy Council, but no appeal had been lodged so there was nothing stopping the minister, Mr Little said.

"Any minister of justice should be seriously concerned whenever there is a credible claim of miscarriage of justice and should act promptly to establish the facts and ensure public confidence in the police and judiciary is not unnecessarily undermined.

"The fact that the Teina Pora case is just one of several high profile cases of alleged miscarriage of justice confirms my view that New Zealand should now consider setting up an equivalent to the UK Criminal Cases Review Commission as a standing Fully independent body to deal with such cases."

The Weekend Herald first revealed in May last year that the detective whose expert testimony convicted Malcolm Rewa of raping Ms Burdett believed Pora was wrongly convicted of her murder.

In 1996, DNA testing showed the semen inside Ms Burdett, who was killed in 1992, belonged to Rewa, a serial rapist who was unknown at the time of Pora's trial but was convicted in 1998 of raping her.

Detective Dave Henwood, a multi-award-winning criminal profiler, said there were no doubts in his mind Rewa committed the crime alone, and that Pora was innocent.

Since then, more doubt has been cast on Pora's conviction, including revelations on TV3's Third Degree this week that a woman raped by Rewa two weeks before the attack on Ms Burdett said she, too, believed an innocent man was in jail.

The programme also discovered that before Pora's first trial, police had believed Ms Burdett was attacked by a serial rapist but did not disclose this to Pora's lawyers.


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