Pora enjoys time with friends, family after Privy Council decision.

On his first day as "Mr Pora", the 39-year-old formerly known as "Teina Pora convicted murderer and rapist" popped out for a morning run.

His boss at the construction site where Mr Pora is a labourer had given him the rest of the week off in light of the momentous news from London. He plans to enjoy the next few days with friends Wheke and John and with Channelle and Benson, his daughter and grandson.

Mr Pora has come a long way since he was released on parole last April. He's adjusted to the shock of the cost of an icecream cone. He has got his driver's licence, a detail he had not bothered with during a career as a teenage car thief.

In March 1993 sixteen year old Teina Proa walked into his local police station and confessed to involvement in a notorious rape and murder. He was convicted twice, two decades later he remains in prison but absolutely no physical evidence links him to the crime. His lies took him to prison, but why is he still there. See the facts behind the case as this documentary follow's prisoner T's application for prerogative mercy.

The shock of the past 36 hours still lingers. It was strange and wonderful for such ugly labels to be stripped from his name so suddenly after so long, he said at a gathering to watch Tuesday night's Privy Council decision.


Mr Pora baked a banana cake for the occasion. And he had a beer. Then, near midnight after the excitement eased, he quietly said, "I believed it would happen one day."

For a shy man the spotlight was too much, even though he'd been told an hour ahead of the news. He stood apart on the deck wearing sunglasses to shield his eyes, as the law lords delivered their decision.

A while later he said something had happened to him 11 years ago, halfway through his time in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo. He is a Christian now but not in a preachy way, he said. He'd settled into a confidence that one day, things would work out.

Three short sentences from a man for whom words don't come easily and had not served well. He was twice convicted of the rape and murder of Susan Burdett on the basis of suspect confessions. The Privy Council accepted expert evidence that he is mentally impaired due to foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and those confessions cannot be relied upon.

Most well-known New Zealand miscarriages of justice have a champion.

An excerpt from The Confessions of Prisoner T that screened on Maori Television.In March 1993 sixteen year old Teina Proa walked into his local police station and confessed to involvement in a notorious rape and murder. He was convicted twice, two decades later he remains in prison but absolutely no physical evidence links him to the crime. His lies took him to prison, but why is he still there?

Tim McKinnel arrived at Mr Pora's cell door in 2009. "We were both fairly suspicious of each other to begin with," he recalled yesterday. As a detective in South Auckland he had been shocked by the heated discussions among senior staff about whether Mr Pora was wrongly convicted. As a private investigator he studied the hallmarks of miscarriages for a criminology degree and saw them in Mr Pora's case.

"We were the same age. I knew South Auckland. Conversation flowed. Eventually we talked about the case and he agreed to let me have a look at it. I later learned that he didn't think he'd hear from me again."

Mr Pora saw plenty of Mr McKinnel during the next five and half years. He made the drive from his Hawkes Bay home to Auckland more than 50 times, leaving wife Megan, a forensic scientist, and their three young children. With lawyers Jonathan Krebs, and Ingrid Squire of Hastings firm Gifford Devine, they have racked up several thousand hours, a good proportion unpaid. They have earned worry lines. Mr McKinnel has seethed over the process of extracting information from the police. He refers to the tools at their disposal - the Official Information Act and the Privacy Act - as "blunt instruments". All but the interviewing policeman's name on one lengthy document was blacked out before it was released.


Information about the person whose semen was found at the murder scene was routinely rejected on the grounds of privacy. They sued the police twice to get information released. The content of hundreds of pages of documents is still a mystery to them.

A decision about a retrial is more than a month away, there is likely then to be the question of compensation but for the investigator and the lawyers overturning the convictions feels like the summit has been reached. They are exhausted and elated.

"It has all worked out well but it has not been easy," said Mr Krebs. The system had finally worked for Mr Pora but the time was right for a criminal cases review commission to independently look into cases like Mr Pora's.

"We shouldn't rely on an ad hoc identification of high-risk cases," said Mr McKinnel, "there should be a process." He figures that if 1 per cent of murder cases went awry, that meant one wrongful conviction every two years.

Mr Pora is a different person from the one Mr McKinnel met at Paremoremo. "In many ways he was like a child. On his first home leaves, straightforward things were amazing to him."

He is fit, works long hours and had "a pretty active social life".

Mr Krebs: "He's become quite independent. He has been in a cottonwool environment [due to parole conditions] but they have gradually been relaxed. He's now got his driver's licence." And he's learned to bake. The banana cake he made on Tuesday tasted sweet.

A brutal murder, a fight for freedom: Teina Pora timeline

1992, March 23:

Susan Burdett raped and murdered in her home in south Auckland.

1993, March 23: Teina Pora charged with burglary, sexual violation and murder.

1994, June: Pora convicted as a party to the rape and murder on the basis of confessions he made. Sentenced to life in prison.

1996, May: Rewa arrested after attacking a young woman in the inner Auckland suburb of Remuera, DNA from Rewa's father found to match semen from Burdett crimescene.

1998: Rewa eventually convicted of the rape of 27 women, including Ms Burdett but two juries fail to reach a verdict on murder.

1998, May 30: In 1998 Rewa was convicted on multiple sex charges dating back to 1987 and sentenced to preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of 22 years. He was convicted of the rape of Ms Burdett the following year.

1999: Court of Appeal quashed Pora's convictions as a result of the DNA evidence implicating Rewa and evidence that Rewa acted alone.

2000, June: Pora was again convicted at his retrial, based on his confessions and witnesses, some of whom it later emerged were paid. His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed.

2009, September: Private investigator and former police detective Tim McKinnel visits Pora in prison and is given permission to make inquires on Pora's behalf.

2011, September: Pora team file notice of application for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy but two years later are granted an appeal to the Privy Council.

2012, May: Police's criminal profiling expert goes public in Herald with view Pora not involved; Pora's team sue police claiming it is unlawfully withholding evidence, Ms Burdett's brother says Pora is innocent.

2013, February: It is revealed police paid some prosecution witnesses.

2013, August: The Police Association call for an independent inquiry into Pora's convictions.

2014, April: Pora granted parole at his 13th appearance before the board and after spending 21 years in jail.

2014, November: Five-member Privy Council panel hears appeal.

2015, March 3: Privy Council quash convictions.

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Read the full Privy Council decision: tinyurl.com/poraprivy