22 Feb 2019

Rewa victim always thought he was capable of murder

6:30 pm on 22 February 2019

A woman who was raped and bashed by Malcolm Rewa two weeks before Susan Burdett was murdered, says she always thought he was capable of murder.

Rhonda McHardy was raped by Malcolm Rewa two weeks before the murder of Susan Burdett

Rhonda McHardy said at the time of her attack she was terrified that Rewa might kill her if he thought she could identify him. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Rhonda McHardy was in court while the convicted rapist gave evidence at his third trial. She said he was totally unbelievable and the jury saw that as well.

Ms McHardy told Checkpoint she always thought he was capable of murder.

"When he attacked me and when I went through that experience, I knew he was capable of killing me ... until you've actually experienced it it's really hard to explain to somebody how you just know and I always had that feeling that I know he's capable of this," she said.

Ms McHardy said she realised during the attack that he was a violent rapist and she was terrified that Rewa might think she could identify him.

"Does he think that I can identify him and will he kill me if he thinks that I saw his face? So that was playing on my mind at the time."

When I found out about Susan Burdett and there was discussion about whether she may have known who he was, I wondered whether that was why she was murdered, Ms McHardy said.

She said four year's after she was attacked, police identified Rewa as her assailant and told her about Susan Burdett's death telling her that Rewa was charged with Ms Burdett's rape and murder.

"As soon as I heard the word murder the first thing that crossed my mind was 'oh my God I was right' ... it was quite chilling at the time ... it's the first time I think in four years since I'd come out of the ordeal that I thought, 'oh my gosh I'm so glad I'm alive.'"

Ms McHardy said she could tell a lot of what Rewa was saying during the part of the trial that she attended was not true.

"The feeling I got from watching him was he was a man who was really desperate to hold onto any hope for freedom, you know it was just like he was trying desperately to get one last chance to feel like he could get out of prison because if there had been a different verdict he would still be able to hold onto that hope and I think a guilty verdict takes away that hope.

"I just felt that desperation," she said.

Ms McHardy said his story did not ring true to her and one of the most satisfying parts was that there was such a quick guilty verdict and that the jury were not buying what the defence was selling.

"I walked out of there just feeling that there was no way there could be any other verdict," she said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs