Phil Taylor

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

Police failed to check rapist's alibi

TV show says victim gave officers Malcolm Rewa's name but they missed chance to catch the serial offender

Malcolm Rewa.
Malcolm Rewa.

The chance to catch serial rapist Malcolm Rewa at the beginning of a run of 25 known attacks, including a possible murder, was missed because of shoddy police work, TV3's 3rd Degree reported last night.

Police failed to check the alibi given by serial rapist Malcolm Rewa after the first of those attacks.

Rewa went on to attack 24 other women during nine years, including Susan Burdett, raped and murdered in her Papatoetoe home in 1992.

The first victim from the series of attacks recognised her attacker and provided the Glenn Innes police with his name in 1988. Rewa claimed to have been out drinking with a mate that night but 3rd Degree revealed police failed to check the alibi.

A detective established that the person Rewa named was living in Australia but did not contact him. At the time Rewa had a conviction for the attempted rape of a nurse.

The victim reiterated to the show an account first reported in 1998 during Rewa's trial.

Days after the attack she gave police Rewa's gang name, Hammer, but was told she would need to come up with his real name. A few weeks later she discovered it was Malcolm Rewa and reported it to police. She said she was not reinterviewed by police but was told six months later that Rewa claimed to have an alibi.

Court records show forensics from her case were destroyed before the crime was solved.

Police reopened her file after she contacted them in 1996 having learned Rewa had been arrested following the attack on what was his 25th victim. The woman said she felt she wasn't believed because she was a "19-year-old girl that had got associated with the Highway 61 gang", of which Rewa was a senior member.

"Malcolm Rewa got seen by me, named and questioned by the police, and they just walked away from him."

A second victim - Rewa's 18th - said she felt police did not believe her when she said she was sure he was a serial rapist because he had seemed so practised and methodical.

Both women believed Teina Pora was innocent of Ms Burdett's rape and murder.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock said any allegation of sexual assault was taken extremely seriously. "Police categorically reject assertions that there was "a lack of will" on the part of investigators to identify and apprehend the offender responsible for the series of rapes in South Auckland which were later linked to Malcolm Rewa ... "

Rewa was convicted of attacks on 25 women including the rape of Ms Burdett, but two juries could not decide if he was guilty of her murder.

Pora was convicted of Ms Burdett's rape and murder in 1994 and found guilty at a retrial in 2000. This was ordered after the semen in Ms Burdett's body was found to belong to Malcolm Rewa.

Pora's lawyers this week filed application with the Privy Council for leave to further appeal against these convictions.

- NZ Herald

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