7 Nov 2013

Portman trial judge declares man hostile witness

6:35 pm on 7 November 2013

A key Crown witness in the Rae Portman murder trial has previously told police he saw one of the accused with a body.

The witness, who has been given name suppression, has told the High Court in Auckland he cannot recall what he saw and has been declared a hostile witness.

After legal arguments in chambers, Justice Toogood told jurors on Thursday that the man has been declared a hostile witness because he was deliberately withholding evidence.

Rae Portman went missing in June 2012. The 33-year-old's body was found on a South Auckland farm in September of that year.

Paraire Te Awa is on trial in the High Court in Auckland and denies charges of kidnapping and murdering Ms Portman before dumping her body in a pit. Another man, Dean Addison, has denied kidnapping and drugs charges.

The witness, who appeared by video link from prison, refused to answer questions from the Crown about earlier statements he made to police including that he saw Mr Te Awa stuffing a body into the boot of a car and that he heard a groan.

Prosecutor Kieran Raftery also asked about a second statement in which the man told police he saw Mr Te Awa with the body of a blonde woman on a farm in South Auckland.

Despite Justice Toogood asking the man to answer questions, he sat with his arms folded and did not make eye contact.

The man said he had been under the influence of methamphetamine and marijuana when he spoke to police.