New Zealand Herald journalist Phil Taylor has reported on Teina Pora’s case for three years, since breaking the story: ‘Innocent man’ in jail 20 years. Today, he explains why convicted rapist Malcolm Rewa is guilty of the murder of Susan Burdett and should go on trial.
Malcolm Rewa murdered Susan Burdett. No other conclusion is possible.
He was the only assailant at her Papatoetoe home on the night of 23 March, 1992, when she was battered and raped.
He expertly got in and let himself out like the cat burglar he was, as he did in his attacks on so many other woman.
We know Rewa was there because his semen was in her body.
Burdett was confronted by Rewa and no one else.
That is why clear hallmarks of many of his other two dozen solo sex attacks were present: positioning her legs off the bed, covering the top half of her body, searching the house for valuables, a woman home alone.
He had time, as solo stalkers of lone women tend to.
And it's why Burdett's neighbour did not hear three or four offenders fleeing, the number the Crown claimed were involved in its case against Teina Pora. According to court evidence, the neighbour heard a number of thuds loud enough to prompt her to go to her window.
Hearing nothing further, she returned to bed.
Those thuds may have been Rewa striking his victim through the duvet that partially covered Burdett's body when it was discovered, using the baseball bat she kept for her protection and that was found on the bed beside her body.
Burdett died because she fought.
Other victims of Rewa's were brutally beaten when they struggled. The woman immediately before Burdett and the one after feared for their lives.
"I really thought he was going to kill me," the latter, raped a week after Burdett died, told police.
Rewa broke the jaw of his last victim when she resisted his attempt to snatch her from an Epsom street.
Burdett's family have no doubt she fought mightily. That's how she was, why she kept the bat.
Rewa's modus operandi, the scene and his own words give him away.
His semen was there, he claimed, because he and Burdett were having an affair.
He couldn't call witnesses to corroborate because, he claimed, it was a tightly held secret.
It was bull and Rewa bungled his lines. He claimed to have shared an ecstasy tablet and a glass of wine with Burdett.
They then had sex, Rewa claimed, before she went off to tenpin bowling and then home to her fate.
Toxicology and her underwear gave the lie to all that.
No trace of drugs was found in her system, or semen in her underwear. That's because the semen was deposited after she undressed for bed about the time she died.
The detective in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Steve Rutherford, since retired, put his finger on it in the weeks after the murder, telling media: "We believe that the person who had sex with her, murdered her."
The Privy Council panel that in March quashed Pora's convictions for rape and murder, went this far: "The man who raped Burdett was undoubtedly Malcolm Rewa," Lord Kerr said.
"That she was killed at the time that she was raped is not open to doubt.
"Unless Pora was present at the time of the rape he could not be implicated in Ms Burdett's murder."
Had Pora been there, he could have given police Rewa's name and banked a reward of up to $50,000 for his baby daughter.
The Crown has suggested he was too afraid to do so but that doesn't sit with the fact he falsely implicated some fearsome Mongrel Mob gang members.
Pora put himself in the picture a year after the murder when, having been arrested for failing to appear in court on car theft charges, he claimed to know who committed the Burdett crimes.
The inquiry went off course from that moment.
The pity is it had by then taken a significant step along the right track by linking the methods used in the Burdett homicide to two other sex attacks Rewa was eventually convicted of.
As a result, Rewa got away with murder and Pora was locked up for 21 years for something he didn't do. Rewa was convicted of Burdett's rape and sex attacks on 24 other women. Pora was twice convicted, as a party, of Burdett's rape and murder.
Solicitor-General Mike Heron, QC, has ruled out putting Rewa on trial a third time, telling the Privy Council after it quashed Pora's convictions that "no exceptional circumstances exist to justify lifting [the] stay" put on the Rewa murder prosecution 16 years ago by his predecessor after a second jury couldn't decide about murder.
For the sake of Burdett's family, and for justice, we say he should rule it back in. As for exceptional circumstances, the Crown's own Rewa expert, police criminal profiler Dave Henwood, long ago pointed what was most unusual about the case.
The juries couldn't decide about Rewa because Pora was already convicted.
"You've got a joker who is not convicted of murdering Susan Burdett, who did murder her," he told the Herald in 2012. "And the reason is, Pora is in the road."
The Privy Council cleared that road block two months ago when it quashed Pora's convictions and recommended that he not be tried again.
That leaves Rewa.
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