Rachel Smalley: Re-trying Malcolm Rewa about justice for Susan Burdett

Rachel Smalley,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 6:36AM
Malcolm Rewa. Right, Susan Burdett. Photo / NZ Herald file
Malcolm Rewa. Right, Susan Burdett. Photo / NZ Herald file

Malcolm Rewa could be charged with the murder of Susan Burdett.

The solicitor-general has applied to lift the stay of proceedings against him, and if granted, that means he could be prosecuted for murder.

It's Teina Pora's name - not Malcolm Rewa's - that we usually associate with Burdett's murder, because he was wrongfully jailed for 22 years for her killing. Pora was freed two years ago, after the Privy Council declared a miscarriage of justice.

Rewa was found guilty of her rape. Burdett was one of 25 women he sexually attacked over a nine-year period. He was found guilty of her rape, but not her murder - and even though Rewa always acted alone as a rapist, Pora said he was there and confessed to her murder.

Of course, we now know that police bungled that case. Pora has foetal alcohol syndrome. He was young, involved with the mob, and police were convinced they had their man.

In the past, police commissioner Mike Bush has said there was no new evidence that warranted re- opening the case, and it seemed there would be no justice for Burdett.

But Pora's legal team and supporters have lobbied the police for some time, in particular, the private investigator Tim McKinnel. He's offered to provide police with some of the information he's gathered over the years. And now it seems it's feasible that Malcolm Rewa could be tried for her murder.

The High Court must now decide whether the stay should be lifted, and whether there is indeed enough new information to warrant doing so.

And this was initiated by police.

They bungled the investigation many years ago in challenging circumstances - a confession. That's as good as it gets when it comes to solving crime. Police thought they had their man. And then more then two decades later, we realised why Teina Pora couldn't have murdered Burdett.

So it's the police who've asked for this stay to be lifted. It's at their request.

They want to re-open this case, and ultimate seek justice. And that's what this is about.

If Rewa was to be found guilty of Burdett's murder, it's unlikely it would impact on his time inside. It's hard to see Rewa ever getting out. Surely.

But it's about justice, and justice being seen to be done.

It's been 25 years and no-one has been held accountable for Susan Burdett's murder. In her memory, and for the sake of the family she left behind, you would hope the stay is lifted.

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