Malcolm Rewa, after an almost unprecedented third trial, has been found guilty of murdering Susan Burdett in her South Auckland home in 1992.

The jury took just under four hours to return their unanimous verdict today after hearing two weeks of evidence and arguments in the High Court at Auckland.

"How do you find the defendant?" the foreman was asked.

"Guilty," he said - standing to tell the court.

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Rewa will now be sentenced on March 26.

Burdett was raped and bludgeoned to death in her Papatoetoe house.

After some 27 years, 12 New Zealanders today said her killer was Rewa.

Infamously, the Crown had also prosecuted Teina Pora for the accounts clerk's murder.

When just 17 years old, Pora was arrested and later twice wrongly convicted for murdering Burdett.

He spent 22 years in prison before the Privy Council quashed his conviction in 2015 and has since received an apology from the Government and $3.5 million in compensation.

Outside the High Court, private investigator Tim McKinnel, who fought to get Pora out of prison, said the guilty verdict was a combination of "justice and trust".

"Burdett's family and friends have endured 27 years of hardship but today we have seen justice merged with truth."

McKinnel said the five trials - Rewa's three and Pora's two - had been tough-going for Burdett's family with a great deal of uncertainty and difficult times.

McKinnel said he had spoken to Burdett's brother Jim when he started working on Pora's case and he was "incredibly understanding" and had a lot of questions.

"It was important for us that we acknowledge [Burdett's family] in this. It wasn't ever just about Teina.

"It always involved two families - Teina and Susan's, you couldn't deal with one without the other."

In a statement, Detective Superintendent Dave Lynch said police welcomed the jury's verdict in convicting Rewa of Burdett's murder.

"Police wish to thank all the witnesses who came to court to give evidence," Lynch said. "We appreciate it has been both difficult and traumatic for people having to relive their experiences of the case some 26 years later.

"[We] also want to acknowledge the Crown and police investigation team for their work over the better part of the last two years preparing this case for trial."

Two juries fail to find Rewa guilty

Rewa was convicted of the 39-year-old's rape in 1998 - but two juries that year were unable to decide whether he was also responsible for her death.

A stay of proceedings for a murder prosecution against Rewa had previously been applied by the Solicitor-General in 1998.

But in 2017 the Deputy Solicitor-General, Brendan Horsley, on behalf of the Attorney-General, reversed the 1998 stay to allow the third trial.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 1992, is a day Steven Dawson will never forget.

It is the day he found his friend's body in her home

Burdett was lying naked on her bed, her upper half covered with a blood-soaked blue duvet and her legs crossed and hanging over the side of the bed.

In front of her, almost parallel, was a baseball bat she would keep nearby for protection.

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

The way Burdett's body was found was also a telltale sign of Rewa's involvement.

"You can be sure he's guilty of murder for two main reasons," Kayes said. "The first is that the attack on Susan Burdett had all the hallmarks of a typical Rewa sexual assault."

The jury heard 20 of Rewa's other rape cases, several of which included the victim having had their legs crossed or dangling, eyes blindfolded, and top half covered.

Kayes also said Rewa surprised Burdett as she prepared for bed after coming home from tenpin bowling - a style of attack Rewa was known for.

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

The weapon, Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said, was the baseball bat.

But during the trial, forensic scientist Dr SallyAnn Harbison said she was only able to detect "four tiny spots of blood" on the bat with the help of a microscope.

However, a test to establish if the blood was human came back inconclusive and Harbison agreed there was no forensic evidence directly relating the bat to Burdett's killing.

Foreign DNA found inside Burdett's body thought was almost certainly Rewa's, Harbison said.

"There is extremely strong support for the proposition that the semen came from Rewa," she said.

The baseball bat the Crown alleges was used to kill Susan Burdett. Photo / Sam Hurley
The baseball bat the Crown alleges was used to kill Susan Burdett. Photo / Sam Hurley

An eerie video of the crime scene was also played to the court during the trial.

It showed no signs of struggle in Burdett's lounge, kitchen and garage - where her grey Toyota Starlet was still parked inside.

In the spare bedroom, however, a briefcase and folder were on one of two single beds.

There are also some paper documents scattered nearby, one lying on top of a rug and another slightly under the bed.

Only a bank card and black camera were missing.

Former Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Grimstone, the police officer who was in charge of the scene, said it was "quite different to anything I had encountered before".

"It was very orderly," he said. "The whole house was tidy."

But, Grimstone added: "You never get two murder scenes that are the same."

Malcolm Rewa, 65, in the dock in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa, 65, in the dock in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig

Earlier in the trial a member of the public sitting in the gallery hissed at Rewa.

"I hope you rot in jail," the man said.

Later in the trial Rewa would later give evidence in his own defence.

"Oh happy days!" He sang before he was walked into the courtroom by two security officers.

Rewa is currently serving a preventive detention sentence for raping several women in the 80s and 90s.

He described his days before prison as "harsh, possibly nasty life".

During his incarceration, however, Rewa explained he had found Christ.

"I walked the Christian walk," he said of his past 23 years in prison.

"It taught me a different way of life - to be accepting. I accepted people for who they were. I learnt to understand, I learnt empathy.

"In prison you get all walks of life - some of the crimes are worse than others - but unless it's against you, you accept them for who they are, not what they've done."

Malcolm Rewa being escorted to the Otahuhu police station by detectives in May 1996. Photo / NZ Herald
Malcolm Rewa being escorted to the Otahuhu police station by detectives in May 1996. Photo / NZ Herald

Rewa said he felt "terrible shame" about his rape convictions, but has always denied raping and murdering Burdett.

"No I didn't ... If I was guilty of it, yes I would [say I did that]," he said of Burdett's killing.

"It would be difficult not to, if you were guilty of it".

To explain how his semen was found inside Burdett's body, Rewa told the court the pair were in a secret sexual relationship.

He said they would have sex at the summit of Māngere Mountain and watch the sunset.

Rewa also claimed they would have sex in his big American truck.

When talking of the night Burdett was killed, Rewa said they had split an ecstasy pill together before having sex on his couch.

"All the years I've been coming to court for this, you know this is my third trial ... Nobody ever asked me about the friendship we had," Rewa said.

"All they were worried about was finding someone to blame for the murder. She wasn't just Susan Burdett, she was my friend too."

Toxicology testing of Burdett's blood in 1998 did not conclusively determine whether or not ecstasy was in her blood, the court heard.

Malcolm Rewa told the court how he would train dogs in the early 1990s. Photo / Supplied
Malcolm Rewa told the court how he would train dogs in the early 1990s. Photo / Supplied

Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers said Burdett knew her killer.

They may have been let in through the front door or had a key, he said.

He accused Burdett's son Dallas McKay of being that person.

In March 1992, McKay was an aluminum fabricator living in Kamo near Whangārei.

He still lives there today.

Chambers alleged McKay travelled to Auckland to kill Burdett and then back to Whangārei between 11pm and 7am during that fateful Monday night.

McKay had inherited $250,000 from Burdett's life insurance policy after she altered her will, the court heard.

"Means, motive and opportunity," Chambers said.

"You had ample opportunity to travel from Whangārei, get into [Burdett's] house, kill your mother, leave the house, and get back home," he said during his cross-examination of McKay.

Susan Burdett was a 39-year-old who loved tenpin bowling. Photo / Supplied
Susan Burdett was a 39-year-old who loved tenpin bowling. Photo / Supplied

But McKay, who reconnected with his mum when he was 20, said he wasn't aware Burdett's will had been amended until her death.

"So what are you accusing me of?" McKay said.

"I thought the question was pretty clear," Chambers said.

"You're joking," said McKay.

"I'm telling you I did not, 'cause I'm not the one on trial here."

Chambers' accusation then became more direct.

"You murdered your mother," he said.

"I don't think so, mate, you've got it completely wrong," McKay replied.

McKay was once treated as a suspect by police during the investigation into Burdett's death.

Other aspects of McKay's evidence were suppressed.

He also recalled for the court the day his mum's body was discovered. He was at work and overheard a radio news bulletin.

"A 39-year-old woman living alone in Papatoetoe had been found bludgeoned to death," the broadcast said, with each passing hour providing further updates.

"I thought 'nah, can't be, couldn't possibly be'," McKay said, before later leaning the tragic truth.

Malcolm Rewa is serving a preventative detention prison sentence for raping several women. Photo / File
Malcolm Rewa is serving a preventative detention prison sentence for raping several women. Photo / File

Burdett's "best friend", Winsome Ansty, also told the court of a secret she was asked to keep.

It was about a Māori man from the wrong side of the tracks Burdett was seeing.

"He was a Māori man, he had gang affiliations, he was married, I think she said he had kids and she met him down at tenpin bowling," Ansty explained.

"She says, 'I've got something to tell you and I don't want you to tell anyone else'.

"She says, 'I don't want anyone else to know'.

"She did tell me his full name but I only remember the name Mike," Ansty said.

Ansty, however, only came forward to police in 2017 and in an email said the mystery man was "Mike Rewa".

During his evidence, Rewa said he was known by other names, including Michael and Hammer.

But also in the email, Ansty said: "I always believed it was Mike or Malcolm Rewa who had killed Sue ... I was very relieved when he was incarcerated ... I think this is probably the last chance to get justice for her."

Kayes argued Ansty's evidence was "wholly unreliable".

"She has got the whole thing hopelessly garbled," he said.

But Chambers said her memories were simply suppressed.

"The memories are not lost," he said.

"When they return they are clear and unequivocal."

Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted of murdering Susan Burdett and spent 22 years in prison as a result of the injustice. Photo / Michael Craig
Teina Pora was twice wrongly convicted of murdering Susan Burdett and spent 22 years in prison as a result of the injustice. Photo / Michael Craig

Justice Venning earlier dismissed an application to stay the murder charge against Rewa and last May further declined an application by Chambers for a judicial review of the decision to lift the stay.

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

During pre-trial hearings, Chambers also argued media publicity and a dramatised 90-minute television film about Pora's case, In Dark Places, was prejudicial to Rewa's case.

"There is sufficient prejudice, sufficient hostility, sufficient time to make a fair trial impossible for the defendant," Chambers argued.

Justice Venning did not publicly release his reasons for allowing the third trial to proceed but simply said: "I am satisfied that Mr Rewa can receive a fair trial ... and that it is in the interests of justice for the trial to proceed."

Rewa was also denied parole last May - his first hearing before the Parole Board.

The written decision will not be publicly released, while his next scheduled parole hearing is for April 2020.