28 Mar 2014

Court says it can't decide Pora bail

5:52 pm on 28 March 2014

Teina Pora will face a Parole Board hearing on Monday after the High Court said it had no jurisdiction to give him bail before his Privy Council appeal hearing.

The High Court decision is the latest in a long line of legal findings that has seen Pora spend 21 years in prison for crimes he says he did not commit.

Teina Pora at the High Court in March.

Teina Pora at the High Court in March. Photo: RNZ

The 38-year-old has twice been found guilty for the murder and rape of Susan Burdett in Auckland in 1992 and is serving a life sentence. His case is going to the Privy Council in London later this year.

On 18 March, Pora's legal team asked the Court of Appeal for bail, but the court said it didn't have the jurisdiction and referred it to the High Court.

Justice Lang heard the application for bail in the High Court in Auckland last week and issued his decision on Friday.

The judge said he has looked at case law in New Zealand, Australia and England and found there is no jurisdiction to grant bail to a sentenced prisoner when that person is facing an appeal to the Privy Council in London.

Justice Lang said there could be special circumstances where the court reconsiders its position if a case is inherently unjust, but Pora's case does not meet that test.

Pora's lawyer Jonathan Krebs told reporters on Friday afternoon that his client is disappointed but philosophical about the decision. Mr Krebs said Pora has had a few knocks in the past few months, but will now be putting all his energy into the Parole Board hearing.

Teina Pora was declined parole in October last year after the board found he remained an undue risk to the community because he breached conditions of his home leave.

At the hearing, Pora revealed that while on a home leave visit, he was out in Auckland with a friend he met in prison and then went with a prostitute.

The board said the problem was not Pora's involvement with the prostitute, but that he breached conditions of his home leave by being in contact with a known criminal and being unaccompanied by his sponsor.

No date has been set for the Privy Council hearing, but the London court has indicated it will be in October or November.

At the bail hearing last week, it was revealed that Pora has been diagnosed as being on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. His lawyer said that evidence is crucial to the Crown's key evidence that his client has made confessions.

Jonathan Krebs said the defence team also has new expert evidence on false confessions. He said what was not put before the jury was that Malcolm Rewa - the serial rapist whose DNA was found at the Burdett murder scene - suffered from erectile dysfunction.

Mr Krebs told the court the Crown says Pora and Rewa were both there. However, Mr Krebs said that doesn't make sense because of the potential embarrassment to Rewa.