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

One year since Teina Pora's convictions quashed

Teina Pora went through two trials, three Court of Appeal hearings and the Privy Council process. Photo / Dean Purcell
Teina Pora went through two trials, three Court of Appeal hearings and the Privy Council process. Photo / Dean Purcell

At 10pm tonight it will be exactly one year since the Privy Council quashed Teina Pora's convictions for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett.

After 21 years he waited patiently for the decision that freed him of the label "convicted murderer" and a bit more patience is required before he learns whether he will receive compensation.

"We have to exercise the same dignified patience that Teina showed when he was waiting for the Privy Council's decision," Mr Pora's lead lawyer Jonathan Krebs said.

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Mr Pora went through two trials, three Court of Appeal hearings and the Privy Council process.

"There is a huge amount of material to be worked through. We are sure His Honour is doing that in a thorough and detailed way," his lawyer said.

Mr Pora applied for compensation soon after his convictions were quashed and last June Justice Minister Amy Adams decided the claim merited further assessment and referred it to retired judge Rodney Hansen, QC.

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"We don't have a fixed date by which we are expecting this report," a spokesman for the minister said.

"There are a number of steps which an inquirer has to undertake and that process is underway. The claim inquiry is largely independent and we don't have much of a role until it's delivered to us."

As Mr Pora's convictions were quashed without order of a retrial, Mr Pora is eligible to apply for compensation under the Cabinet criteria for "compensation and ex-gratia payments for persons wrongly convicted and imprisoned in criminal cases".

Mr Hansen's first task was to decide whether he was satisfied that Mr Pora was "innocent on the balance of probabilities", a judicial test of whether Pora was more likely than not to be innocent.

If that test was met, he then had to recommend an amount of compensation. Cabinet guidelines set a base figure of about $100,000 compensation per year of wrongful incarceration. Pora spent 21 years in prison after being convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Papatoetoe clerk Susan Burdett.

Considerations to be taken into account include Mr Pora's conduct leading to prosecution and conviction, whether the prosecution acted in good faith and was properly conducted, the seriousness of the offence, the severity of sentence and the loss to Mr Pora resulting from the conviction.

In 2001, the Government awarded David Dougherty $868,728 compensation after he spent more than three years in prison for an abduction and rape of an 11-year old girl that he did not commit.

Mr Pora has worked as a builder since he was released on parole in April 2014. He couldn't be reached for comment.

A book - In Dark Places, The Confessions of Teina Pora And An Ex-Cop's Fight For Justice - goes on sale later this month. It is by award-winning filmmaker Michael Bennett who directed the documentary about the case, The Confessions of Prisoner T.

- NZ Herald

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