Malcolm Rewa trial: Susan Burdett's friend tells of victim's secret relationship

A former friend of Susan Burdett's has told the jury at her murder trial that Ms Burdett was in a secret relationship with a man called Mike.

Yesterday Malcolm Rewa denied that he raped and murdered Ms Burdett in 1992, saying instead that they had a secret romantic relationship.

Rewa was found guilty in 1998 of Ms Burdett's rape but two juries have failed to decide if he was also guilty of her murder.

Today defence called witness Winsome Ansty, she considered Ms Burdett "her best friend" and told the jury Ms Burdett asked her to keep a secret about a man she was seeing.

"After her relationship had broken up, there was a guy she was seeing.

"She did tell me his full name but I remember her saying Mike."

The court heard yesterday that Rewa also went by the names "Michael Lewis", "Michael Rewa" and "Hammer".

Ms Ansty said Ms Burdett told her the man she was seeing was Māori with gang affiliations, he had kids and that she met him at tenpin bowling.

She also said Ms Burdett told her about going out on a yacht overnight with this man.

"I was rather intrigued because Sue wasn't really a boating person.

"She wasn't into going out on the water. They went out and stayed overnight, the guys were doing drugs, that was another shock."

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes asked the witness why she didn't disclose the information to police in her initial statement.

"That had all gone 'whoosh' out of my head. I was in deep shock," Ms Ansty said.

"I suggest your memories now are not reliable," Mr Kayes said.

"These were memories you remembered after reading media articles."

The witness replied that her memories were triggered by what she read in the media.

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