One of Susan Burdett's close friends has described the moment he walked into her house and discovered her bloodied body lying half covered with a duvet.

The 39-year-old accounts clerk was raped and bludgeoned to death in her Auckland home in 1992.

Today, for the third time, serial rapist Malcolm Rewa stood before a jury charged with her murder.

Steven Dawson was one of a handful of witness called to give evidence on day one of the trial, which is expected to last up to four weeks.


He found Burdett's body in her home on Wednesday, March 25, 1992.

Susan Burdett, pictured in 1989, was killed in her Auckland home in 1992. Photo / File
Susan Burdett, pictured in 1989, was killed in her Auckland home in 1992. Photo / File

Dawson went to the Papatoetoe house after concerned workmates asked someone to check in on her after she failed to show up for work.

He recalled noticing a window was ajar about two inches before knocking on the door again and calling out Burdett's name.

But there was no reply.

Dawson noticed Burdett's grey Toyota Starlet was still at the property.

He forced his way into the home and remembered seeing a briefcase sitting on the spare bed.

As he made his way through the hallway he reached Burdett's room.

"I saw her legs over the side of the bed, naked from the waist down and bed covers over her," he said, holding back tears.

Dawson took two steps inside the already open door.

A wooden baseball bat was on the bed.

He quickly went to the kitchen and called for help, lit a cigarette and waited for police to arrive.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes earlier alleged Rewa had entered Burdett's home on March 23, raped her and murdered her.

Brain matter and a significant amount of blood was found on the sheets, while a bra covered Burdett's eyes, he said.

Kayes said forensic evidence concluded Burdett had been hit across the head at least five times by a blunt instrument.

She would have died within minutes, Kayes added.

Rewa was convicted in 1998 of having raped Burdett but two juries that year were unable to decide whether he murdered her.

The now 65-year-old raped several women between 1987 and 1996, five attacks coming in 1992.

Malcolm Rewa walks into court earlier this morning. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa walks into court earlier this morning. Photo / Michael Craig

Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted for murdering Burdett on the back of a false confession.

Arrested when just 17, he spent 22 years in prison before the Privy Council quashed his conviction in 2015.

He has since received an apology from the Government and $3.5 million in compensation.

A stay of proceedings for a murder prosecution against Rewa was applied by the Solicitor-General in 1998, but in 2017 the Deputy Solicitor-General reversed the stay.

Justice Geoffrey Venning also earlier dismissed an application to stay the murder charge against Rewa, who is currently serving a preventive detention prison sentence.

Last May, Justice Venning further declined an application by Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers for a judicial review of the decision to lift the stay.

The judge has said he was "satisfied that Mr Rewa can receive a fair trial ... and that it is in the interests of justice for the trial to proceed".

A stay had never before been lifted in New Zealand's legal history.