Teina Pora 'doing it tough', despite Malcolm Rewa's conviction

Malcolm Rewa's conviction for the murder of Susan Burdett won't make life easier for Teina Pora, says the investigator whose work secured the innocent man's release.

Mr Pora spent 21 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of Ms Burdett's 1992 murder. Rewa - already serving time for raping the 39-year-old - and others - was last week finally convicted of killing her too. It was the third trial he'd faced for the murder, two previous juries unable to convict him.

This time he wasn't so lucky.

"His defence and his evidence in particular was cruel," private investigator Tim McKinnell told The AM Show on Monday. "It was incredibly cruel to the Burdett family that they had to sit there and listen to those lies. It was tough going."

Rewa's defence was that he and Ms Burdett were in a relationship. It wasn't a new story, but Mr McKinnell said the level of detail he went into this time around was "heart-wrenching".

"Rewa's defence was that he was a god-fearing and loving parent, and his relationship with Susan was consensual and his evidence in chief was calm and collected and quite smooth, but I think he cracked under cross-examination and I think the jury got to see him for what he was.

"He was angry, he was defiant, he was objectionable at times. All of that counted against him."

Tim McKinnell.
Tim McKinnell. Photo credit: The AM Show

Mr McKinnell first met Mr Pora in 2009, and within six months it was clear to him that Mr Pora was innocent, he told North & South in 2016.

But it took six years for Mr Pora's convictions to be quashed. He eventually received $3.5 million in compensation - but no amount could make up for the lost decades, said Mr McKinnell.

"Teina's doing it tough. The money helps with the practical things in life, but it hasn't undone the damage. He has been incredibly damaged by this, and he struggles on a daily basis.

"He grew up in prison and he lived with criminals, and to expect him to come out as a well-adjusted member of society I think is asking a little too much."

Teina Pora.
Teina Pora. Photo credit: Newshub.

Mr McKinnell said while Mr Pora celebrated Rewa's conviction, he himself was too knackered.

"I spent the day in bed on Saturday. The body shut down and I had a day off. I wasn't well. It's been a tough few years, but it's over now."

Rewa will be sentenced in March.


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