Teina Pora's legal team claims a new diagnosis of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder will help explain why he confessed to the murder and rape of Susan Burdett.
One effect of the disorder is the need to fit in, and Pora's lawyers believe that makes his confession unreliable.
In the police interview with Pora outside Ms Burdett's address 21 years ago, the police showed him the house where the crime took place.
Pora's lawyers believe answers given under circumstances like that are not reliable because they could be caused by a newly diagnosed condition.
"What we know is that Teina has a condition that is somewhere on the foetal alcohol spectrum," says Pora's lawyer, Jonathan Krebs. "We don't know the exact diagnosis yet. That is to be confirmed."
The legal team revealed the diagnosis at yesterday's bail hearing. They say it could explain his apparent confession.
"It's counterintuitive for a person to admit to offending they didn't complete, especially something so serious as homicide, so in this case having a diagnosis that explains his mind was working in a different way will be very helpful for our appeal," says Mr Krebs.
Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder is caused by the mother consuming too much alcohol during pregnancy. The resulting brain damage has many effects. One is called "suggestibility", where the person wants to please even if they do not know the answer.
"That leaves them open to other people's ideas because they are looking for answers to fill those gaps in their knowledge," says Christine Rogan at Alcohol Healthwatch.
Pora's legal team says the diagnosis is in its early stages. It will be one of the main submissions when they appeal his conviction at the Privy Council later this year.
source: newshub archive