19 Feb 2019

Malcolm Rewa gives evidence in Susan Burdett murder trial

6:37 pm on 19 February 2019

Serial rapist Malcolm Rewa has told a court he will not ever forgive himself for hurting women - but he didn't rape or murder Susan Burdett.

Rewa, who is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, has begun giving evidence in his own defence.

Dressed in a white skivvy and grey track pants, he hobbled into the dock with the aid of a walking stick before telling the jury he'd found God.

The 65-year-old said he'd spent the better part of 23 years in jail grappling with the gravity of his offending and felt terrible shame about what he'd done.

"I couldn't imagine any one of them forgiving me for what I'd done because I can feel their pain now because I'm able to reflect back on what I did. I'd never put myself in that situation to ask for their forgiveness."

Rewa carried out a series of violent sex attacks on women in their own homes between 1987 and 1996.

Today he told the court he didn't deserve his victims' forgiveness and wouldn't ever have the strength forgive himself.

But he told his lawyer Paul Chambers he didn't rape - or kill - Susan Burdett.

He said he met Ms Burdett at her workplace in 1990 and sold her the drug ecstasy when she was having marital problems.

Rewa said they started having sex in late 1991 and slept together at his house, in his truck and underneath the trig station on Māngere Mountain.

He told the court they shared a pill of ecstasy, swallowing it with wine, before having consensual sex the night she died.

This was despite Ms Burdett's friends and colleagues saying she despised drugs and never touched wine the last week.

Malcolm Rewa in court on 19 February.

Malcolm Rewa in court today. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Rewa was convicted of raping Ms Burdett in his second 1992 trial after semen found in her body was identified as his but juries in two separate trials were unable to decide if he also murdered her.

He has, and continues to maintain the sex was consensual and today told the jury what happened afterwards.

"She spent a bit of time in the bathroom and cleaned herself up and then a little while later she came back out.

"She made a comment about our toilet paper because my wife used to buy triple-ply toilet paper that was scented."

Under cross-examination Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes put to Rewa that he had invented this toilet paper detail to explain away the scientific evidence.

"The reason why your semen was not found on Ms Burdett's underpants or her jeans is because she never got the chance to put clothes on after you had sex with her. You raped her and you killed her," Mr Kayes said

"No," Rewa replied.

The 65-year-old told the court he was sad when he heard about her killing.

"You know all the years that I've been coming to court for this ... nobody ever asked me about the friendship we had. All they were worried about was finding someone to blame for her murder.

"All these years not once has anybody ever said how do you feel about losing your friend because that's what she was; she wasn't just Susan Burdett she was my friend too. Sure, the family lost their daughter, they lost their sister, but she was still a friend to me."

This came into contention when Mr Kayes referenced a transcript from a previous trial where Rewa had said he didn't have warm feelings for her.

"Do you remember saying 'it was like I didn't have warm feelings for her it was a friendship, it was an income and it was sex'?"

Rewa conceded he had said that but denied exaggerating their relationship or lying on the stand.

"Just because I'm a bad person doesn't mean to say I'm a liar. Good people lie too."

He told his lawyer Paul Chambers he couldn't remember when he first heard about Ms Burdett's killing but said he didn't go to the police when he did because of the series of rapes he was committing.

"Had I have done that I would have been opening myself up to everything that I was doing; going around and doing what I was doing to the women."

"The spree of rapes and burglaries?" Mr Chambers interrupted.

"Yes. I was more worried about that than manning up so I didn't go anywhere near the police."

Mr Kayes questioned Rewa about features of his previous offending, particularly the fact he met many of his victims socially before going on to rape them, as he did with Ms Burdett.

Rewa continually denied raping and murdering Ms Burdett and said it would be difficult to lie about it if he was responsible.

The trial before Justice Venning and a jury will likely conclude this week.

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