Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

IPCA to investigate police actions in rape case

Malcolm Rewa.
Malcolm Rewa.

The police watchdog has made a u-turn on its decision to not investigate the handling of a complaint against serial rapist Malcolm Rewa from 25 years ago.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) today announced it would investigate allegations of police misconduct and the failure of police to investigate information relating to Rewa.

IPCA chairman Sir David Carruthers said the authority had reflected on the information raised over the past few days and independently decided an investigation was warranted.

"This will focus on the nature of the police investigation into the historical allegations of rape raised by a number of women and whether police should have identified the perpetrator during the course of their investigation."

Police failed to check the alibi given by Rewa after he attacked a 19-year-old girl in 1988, TV3's 3rd Degree reported on Wednesday night.

The woman, who featured in the programme, was the first known victim in a string of 25 attacks by Rewa during a nine-year period.

Auckland accountant Susan Burdett, who was raped and murdered in her Papatoetoe home in 1992, was among this group of women, and Teina Pora, then aged 17, was convicted of her murder.

Yesterday the IPCA issued a statement explaining its decision not to investigate a complaint into how police handled reports from Rewa's victims some 20 years ago.

But today, Sir David said the office had "listened to the conversations and discussions involving this matter and...taken everything on board".

"It is not unusual for the authority to re-evaluate a decision as new information comes to light," he said.

"Our role is to consider complaints about alleged police misconduct or neglect of duty, or about police practices, policies or procedures.

"The authority is fully independent of police and as such this investigation will be carried out by the authority's independent staff."

The investigation would "not consider matters in relation to Teina Pora that are currently before the court".

The investigation team would be made up of staff including non-New Zealand investigators and others from different backgrounds with experience of rape and sexual abuse matters, he said.

Rewa's first victim told 3rd Degree she had provided Glenn Innes Police with her attacker's name in 1988. Rewa told police he had been drinking with a mate at the time of the attack, however this was never checked.

A detective established the person Rewa named in his alibi was living in Australia, but they never contacted him. At the time, Rewa had a conviction for the attempted rape of a nurse.

Pora was convicted of Ms Burdett's rape and murder in 1994.

He was convicted again at a retrial in 2000, which was ordered after the semen in Ms Burdett's body was found to belong to Rewa. Pora's lawyers this week filed an application with the Privy Council for leave to further appeal those convictions.


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