17 May 2017

Malcolm Rewa to be retried for Susan Burdett killing

From Morning Report, 7:09 am on 17 May 2017

A 25 year long murder case that's seen multiple trials, a wrongful conviction and accusations of shoddy police work could be reopened with Malcolm Rewa to be retried for Susan Burdett's killing.

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Ms Burdett was found bludgeoned to death in her south Auckland home in March 1992 and Rewa was tried twice for the crime.

He was found guilty of raping her, but neither jury was able to reach a verdict on whether Rewa killed her, and after the second trial he was given a stay of prosecution.

During this time, Teina Pora was already serving time for Ms Burdett's murder. He was in jail for 22 years before his convictions were quashed in 2015

Since then, there have been calls from Ms Burdett's family and Mr Pora's lawyers for Rewa's stay of prosecution to be lifted so he could be tried a third time.

Police said yesterday Solicitor General Una Jagose had reviewed the stay of prosecution and would now apply to the High Court to re-try Rewa.

Tim McKinnel, who helped to overturn Mr Pora's conviction for the murder, told Morning Report the material the defence team has could be relevant to the police investigation.

Criminal Bar Association president Len Andersen said the law did not appear to have a mechanism for removing the stay on prosecuting Malcolm Rewa for a third time.

Police described the case as a "complex legal situation," and Mr Anderson said as far as he knew, lifting a stay of prosecution has never been done in New Zealand before.

Mr Anderson said he was not aware of a situation where a stay had been lifted.

"The expectation was once a stay was granted that was it. That was the end of the matter like a conviction or acquittal."

He said the case had "very usual circumstances" because someone was already serving time for Ms Burdett's murder during Rewa's first and second trial.

A former criminal lawyer who has represented Malcolm Rewa, Barry Hart, said there has been massive publicity around the case and "there is no way he can get a fair trial."