One of New Zealand's most infamous murder cases - which spanned 27 years, five trials and saw an innocent man locked away for two decades - has finally returned a verdict described as "justice merged with truth".

Malcolm Rewa was yesterday found guilty of murdering Susan Burdett in her South Auckland home in March 1992.

It was the third murder trial for the serial rapist, who today turns 66, but this time a jury returned a unanimous decision.

However, Rewa has raised concerns about how quickly the jury returned its verdict - prompting speculation over a potential appeal.

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Susan Burdett, pictured on her wedding day in December 1975. Photo / Supplied
Susan Burdett, pictured on her wedding day in December 1975. Photo / Supplied

Rewa's two previous trials in 1998 resulted in both juries being unable to reach a conclusion. Rewa was, however, convicted of Burdett's rape.

The jury yesterday took just under four hours - including a lunch break - to reach their decision after hearing two weeks of evidence in the High Court at Auckland.

It was a moment in New Zealand's judicial history not lost on those in the courtroom, which included private investigator Tim McKinnel.

Along with lawyers and journalists, including the Weekend Herald's Phil Taylor, McKinnel led the pursuit against one of this country's great injustices - the prosecution of Teina Pora.

When just 17 years old, Pora was arrested and later twice wrongly convicted for killing the 39-year-old accounts clerk.

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

A 1998 stay of the murder charge against Rewa was lifted in 2017, allowing this month's trial to proceed.

Tim McKinnel told media the guilty verdict marked a very important day for Teina Pora. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Tim McKinnel told media the guilty verdict marked a very important day for Teina Pora. Photo / Jason Oxenham

McKinnel described yesterday's guilty verdict as "justice merged with truth".

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

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

During the trial the court heard the attack on Burdett displayed all the hallmarks of a typical Rewa crime.

Twenty of Rewa's other rape cases were used as evidence in the trial, several of which included the victim having had their legs crossed or dangling over the bed, their eyes blindfolded, and top half covered.

Burdett was found by a friend 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.

Teina Pora twice wrongly convicted of the murder and spent 22 years in prison. Photo / Michael Craig
Teina Pora twice wrongly convicted of the murder and spent 22 years in prison. Photo / Michael Craig

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said Rewa, after slipping in through a window, surprised Burdett as she prepared for bed - a style of attack he was known for.

She was then bludgeoned to death with the baseball bat she kept for protection, the court heard.

McKinnel described Rewa as a "monster" but said people like him were not born that way.

For Pora, it was a day he had been waiting for after being wrongly punished for a crime he never committed, McKinnel said outside the courthouse.

Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers, however, said his client has concerns about the speed of the jury's verdict.

"Disappointed would be an understatement but he's pretty calm about it," Chambers said.

"He always felt he was going into this with a likelihood that it would be hard to get a fair trial.

Malcolm Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers said his client has concerns about how quickly the jury reached its verdict. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Malcolm Rewa's lawyer Paul Chambers said his client has concerns about how quickly the jury reached its verdict. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"It's difficult for the jury to not be swayed by the evidence that was brought in by propensity," he said.

The Court of Appeal permitted the Crown to use most of Rewa's previous rape convictions as evidence of a pattern of offending.

During pre-trial hearings, Chambers also argued historical media publicity was prejudicial to Rewa's case.

He said he would think carefully, logically and without emotion about any potential appeal.

During the trial, Chambers told the court Burdett knew her killer and accused her son Dallas McKay of the murder.

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

Rewa, who gave evidence in his own defence, also claimed he was in a secret sexual relationship with Burdett - which he said explained his semen being found at the crime scene.

He will be sentenced next month.

Malcolm Rewa, pictured in the dock during his third trial. Photo / Michael Craig
Malcolm Rewa, pictured in the dock during his third trial. Photo / Michael Craig