20 Feb 2019

Rewa murder trial: Burdett's friend reveals secret relationship

2:49 pm on 20 February 2019

A court has heard Susan Burdett confided in a close friend about a man named 'Mike' before she was killed.

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Susan Burdett Photo: Supplied

Ms Burdett, a 39-year-old accounts clerk, was found raped and bludgeoned to death in her Papatoetoe home in 1992.

Serial rapist Malcolm Rewa is on trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering her in the course of the sexual assault, for which he has already been convicted.

Today, Winsome Ansty was called as the second and final witness in the defence case.

She told the court Ms Burdett was her best friend and told her a romantic secret about a man called 'Mike' before she died.

"She came and visited me at home; popped in the back door as per normal; didn't need to knock.

"She was acting a bit coy and said I've got something to tell you and I don't want you to tell anyone else. She said she didn't want anyone else to know."

Mrs Ansty said Ms Burdett told her she was seeing a 'Mike' who was Māori, had gang connections, and was married with kids.

The court had previously heard Malcolm Rewa, who was a senior member of the Highway 61 gang, went by the name 'Michael Lewis' and had a wife and children.

Rewa maintains he was having a secret affair with Ms Burdett when she was killed and had nothing to do with her rape or death.

Mrs Antsy told the court her friend said she'd met 'Mike' at tenpin bowling and partied with him and others on a yacht.

"I was rather intrigued because Sue wasn't really a boating person ... I think they stayed overnight and the guys were doing drugs.

"That was another shock that she would be associated with that because the Sue I knew was anti-drugs and anti-alcohol."

Malcom Rewa in the Auckland High Court, 19 February 2019.

Malcolm Rewa Photo: POOL

Yesterday, Rewa gave evidence that he never went tenpin bowling with Ms Burdett and had never been on a boat with her.

Mrs Antsy told the jury she contacted police in 2017 to tell them about what she'd heard and told them the man's name was 'Mike Rewa'.

"I think I heard that there was going to be this trial and I thought perhaps I'd better say something of what I had remembered since."

However, she recanted what she told police on the stand today, saying she'd got the last name wrong.

"Well the Mike was correct, the Rewa wasn't.. That's not the name she gave me."

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes questioned why she had not approached authorities earlier with her story.

He pointed out a series of events that may have jogged her memory earlier; when she spoke to police after her friend's body was found, after Malcolm Rewa's first two trials and after those of Teina Pora, who spent more than two decades in prison after falsely confessing to murdering Ms Burdett.

"These are memories that you remembered after reading media articles, weren't they?"

"I would say they probably triggered my memory ... I definitely buried a lot of memories," she replied.

Mr Kayes suggested her memory wasn't reliable, given the time that had passed, to which Mrs Ansty said that would be "a fair comment".

He took her through an email she sent to police, dated 18 May 2017. The following exchange then took place.

Mr Kayes: "Did you say at the tail-end of that email: 'I've always believed it was Mike Malcolm Rewa who killed Sue and was very relieved when he was eventually incarcerated'?"

Mrs Ansty: "Yes I see that. Yup."

Mr Kayes: "And do you go on to say at the end 'this may be the last opportunity to get justice for Sue'?"

Mrs Antsy: "Yes."

Mr Kayes: "And you do remember in your interview saying: 'Well I think this is probably the last chance to get justice for her and have always thought it was him, that it was Mike.' Do you remember saying that?"

Mrs Antsy: "Yes, I think so."

Mr Kayes: "Can I suggest to you that you came forward in 2017 trying to be helpful. Do you accept that?"

Mrs Antsy: "Yes."

Mr Kayes: "Trying to get justice for your friend Susan Burdett?"

Mrs Anstry: "Yes."

Mr Kayes: "In your mind, you were sure that Malcolm Rewa was the offender?"

Mrs Antsy: "I was reasonably sure, yup. At that stage."

Mr Kayes: "And I suggest to you that your memory of what Susan Burdett actually told you over 25 years ago isn't reliable. Do you accept that?"

Mrs Antsy: "It's a possibility."

The Crown and defence will close their cases tomorrow.

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