22 Feb 2019

Malcolm Rewa jury considers verdict on charge of murdering Susan Burdett

12:14 pm on 22 February 2019

The jury in Malcolm Rewa's third murder trial has retired to deliberate on its verdict.

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

Malcolm Rewa in the Auckland High Court. Photo: POOL

Rewa, 65, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering Susan Burdett, who was found clubbed to death in her Papatoetoe home 27 years ago.

The Crown's case is that Rewa broke into Ms Burdett's Papatoetoe home on 23 March 1992, raped her and murdered her with a bat she kept for her own protection.

Rewa maintains he was having a secret affair with the 39-year-old and had nothing to do with her death.

Instead, his lawyer Paul Chambers said it was Ms Burdett's son Dallas McKay who killed her to gain a $250,000 inheritance.

Rewa has already been convicted of raping Ms Burdett but juries in two separate trials in 1998 couldn't decide if he murdered her.

In summing up the case, Justice Venning told the jury their only task was to consider the evidence before them.

"The juries in those cases could not agree. You must not speculate why that was so or even why there is this further retrial."

The court had previously heard Rewa was a serial rapist who carried out violent sex attacks on women between 1987 and 1996.

Justice Venning said while prejudice and sympathy were natural reactions, the jury had to reach their decision uninfluenced by them.

"That is particularly important in this case. You have heard Mr Rewa has been convicted of the rape or sexual assault of 20 women, you've heard details of those attacks.

"It would be understandable if you felt some prejudice against Mr Rewa as a result ... you may feel some sympathy for Ms Burdett killed in the way she was. Possibly, some of you may feel some sympathy for Mr Rewa facing a charge of murder for a third time after all these years."

Justice Venning told the jury they could not reach their decision out of "dislike or distaste" for Rewa.

"You must not reason that because he has been convicted of sexual assaults and rapes in the past he must be guilty of murder. This case is not about what you might think of him as a person, it is whether the evidence, considered objectively, establishes he killed Susan Burdett."

The jury of five women and seven men retired for deliberations at 10.30am.

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