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

Phil Taylor: Decision lights clear way forward for defence case

Teina Pora at his retrial in 2000.
Teina Pora at his retrial in 2000.

The Privy Council decision to grant Teina Pora an appeal is a significant step which his team will hope will open public purse strings and access to information held by police not yet disclosed.

Pora's team worked on his application to the Privy Council for free after an application for legal aid was turned down last year.

Solicitor-General Michael Heron confirmed that Crown Law would appear in London and said it was expected Pora would make a further application to Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson for legal aid now the Privy Council had decided there were grounds for a new appeal.

The British court has indicated the hearing would be allocated three days and was likely to be in New Zealand's spring.

Pora's lawyer, Jonathan Krebs, has indicated they will also apply for bail for Pora, 38, who in March will have spent 21 years in jail having twice been convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

Mr Krebs and Ingrid Squire, from Hastings, will represent Pora at the hearing.

The two grounds (of five put forward) accepted are the most meaty: that Pora's confessions were false, and that Malcolm Rewa, a stalker rapist convicted of raping Ms Burdett after semen in her body was linked to him, would not have taken an accomplice.

Rewa is serving a life sentence having also been convicted of solo attacks on 24 other women.

Evidence Pora's team will advance includes an assessment by the world's leading authority on false confessions, Gisli Gudjonsson, professor of forensic psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, that concludes that Pora's confessions "are fundamentally flawed and unsafe", and a review of the case by criminal profiling expert Professor Laurence Alison, chair of forensic psychology at Liverpool University, that said it is "highly unlikely" Rewa would have worked with any co-offender, let alone Pora.

There is much work to be done, but the road ahead for Pora is now clear.

Weekend Herald reporter Phil Taylor wrote the first articles questioning Pora's conviction two years ago.

- NZ Herald

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

Phil Taylor is a Weekend Herald and New Zealand Herald senior staff writer. He has 30 years’ experience on newspapers, including in Sydney and London, and joined the Herald in 2004. Taylor writes on a broad range of topics. He is a former winner of Reporter of the Year, Feature Writer of the Year and Sports Reporter of the Year. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in politics and a post-graduate Diploma in Journalism, both from the University of Canterbury. Taylor has been awarded journalism fellowships to Green College, Oxford University, and Wolfson College, Cambridge University.

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