Pora's wish list 'just basic freedoms'

Convicted killer will relish the choices we all take for granted, says one of supporters.

Teina Pora has been granted parole pending a Privy Council appeal but his release date is unknown. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Teina Pora has been granted parole pending a Privy Council appeal but his release date is unknown. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Teina Pora's wish list after his successful bid for release yesterday are things the rest of us take for granted, a member of his legal team says.

"He's just looking forward to being able to eat when he wants, go to bed and get out of bed when he wants, talk on the phone when he wants without having to worry about fitting in with the regime.

"It's those really basic freedoms: to be able to go fishing with some friends, to spend time without having to constantly look at the clock," said private investigator Tim McKinnel.

After a two-hour hearing and a short deliberation the board recalled Pora, his legal team of Jonathan Krebs, Ingrid Squire - who made the submissions on Pora's behalf - and Mr McKinnel, plus two support people, back into the hearing room at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo.

On 12 previous occasions he was told parole had been denied. This time the board told him it was satisfied he "no longer poses an undue risk to the safety of the community".

"I don't think he would mind me saying that there was more than one weepy eye in the room," Mr McKinnel, a former policeman who took up Pora's cause more than four years ago, told the Herald.

Work and home leave had helped, but were diminished by the knowledge the clock was always ticking and his cell awaited.

"He's still on parole, he's not totally free, he's still a convicted rapist and murderer, but in his day-to-day life he will have so many more freedoms than he's had since he was 17."

Daughter Channelle Bennett told the Herald Pora rang with the news and told her he wouldn't be released immediately and not to get too excited. "He is really, really happy; he's stoked as," she said.

"He can attend my son's fifth birthday, in mid-April."

Ms Bennett, who was 2 when Pora was arrested, said she was also looking forward to having her father with her for her birthday too, in August.

For a long time Pora's release on parole was hamstrung by his steadfast denial of having had anything to do with the 1992 rape and murder of Aucklander Susan Burdett.

Latterly misdemeanours tripped him up: having a screwdriver (for tightening the sprigs on his rugby league boots, his counsel says) and a memory stick containing movies in his cell, and associating while on home leave with a friend who is a former prisoner. Pora, 38, has been in prison for 21 years, having been twice convicted of the Burdett crimes.

After Pora's first trial, serial rapist Malcolm Rewa was convicted of raping Ms Burdett.

Rewa's DNA was found at the scene. At Pora's retrial the Crown argued the two acted together.

Pora is the 13th New Zealander to have been granted leave to appeal to the Privy Council. The British court is due to hear his appeal in October or November.

Jim Burdett, Ms Burdett's brother, said: "I'm pleased Teina Pora is going to be released because I'm convinced he's innocent of the crime. I expect the conviction to be overturned."

Pora's release date has not yet been disclosed.

How the case unfolded
*1992: Susan Burdett raped and murdered in her home in Papatoetoe.
*1994: Pora convicted of rape and murder.
*2000: Found guilty for a second time after a retrial was ordered.
*February: Privy Council allows Pora to appeal against his convictions.
*Yesterday: Parole bid accepted while awaiting for his appeal to be heard by the Privy Council.

- NZ Herald

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