Teina Pora 'doing it tough' after Malcom Rewa sentencing - investigator

On Tuesday another chapter closed in the most severe case of criminal injustice our country has ever seen.  

Malcolm Rewa will spend the rest of his life in prison for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. Incredibly, it's taken 27 years to get to this day.

In 1992, police began a series of interviews with Teina Pora, a 17-year-old with learning difficulties, after Ms Burdett was found dead in her Auckland home. Two years later, he was in prison for her rape and murder.

But in 1999, serial rapist Malcolm Rewa was charged with Burdett's rape. A year later, Pora appealed to have his conviction overturned - but failed.

Finally in 2014 he was released on parole, eventually leading to his conviction being quashed in 2015 after a high-profile campaign to clear his name.

Investigator Tim McKinnel has been an advocate for Pora for a long time. He told The Project it's incredibly meaningful to see Rewa finally sentenced for his crime.

"It's a really important day for us, but it's more important for the Burdett family. They've had to endure five trials over 25 years to get to this point, so it's all about them."

He's spoken to Ms Burdett's brother Jim, who he says has been "generous and understanding" about his work to clear Pora's name, and believes Rewa's sentencing will bring the family some sense of closure.

"I think it is a full stop in terms of what happened to Susan. We haven't really known the truth in terms of the courts, the truth hasn't been evident for many years.

"I think we're there now; Malcolm Rewa's been sentenced, and all that can be done in the criminal justice system has been done."

McKinnel says the way the New Zealand justice system treated Pora was "concerning".

"I can forgive a little bit of what happened in the 1990s, I think different standards applied and we understood things in a different way than we do now. But we faced a great deal of resistance over five or six years straight trying to get Teina's case to the Privy Council, and I think a lot of that was completely unnecessary."

He says Pora is pleased for the Burdett family, but 21 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit has taken an immeasurable toll.

"He's doing it tough. Life's difficult for him. He's got money but that doesn't undo the damage that's been done to him."

Several women who had been raped by Rewa came forward to help bring him to justice. McKinnel says they are "incredibly brave".

"They were victims many years ago, but rather than focusing on themselves they've looked at Susan and her family and what's happened to them and they've done all they could over the years to make sure justice was eventually done."

Now that Pora is a free man, McKinnel is working on a couple of cases he says are "equally worrying".

One is Gail Maney, who was found guilty of murder in 1999. The other is Alan Hall, the subject of Newshub's true crime podcast Grove Road, who was convicted of a 1985 murder.

McKinnel believes both "concerning" cases may have been miscarriages of justice.

"On the numbers game we don't often get it wrong, but when we do it goes catastrophically wrong. We hear about these cases, there's a long list of them now, and I think that list is set to continue."


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