Lifting Malcolm Rewa's stay of prosecution 'unprecedented'

by RNZ / 17 May, 2017
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Malcolm Rewa was convicted of Susan Burdett's rape. Photo / supplied

Detectives are already working on the case, in the event of the stay of prosecution being lifted.

A move to revise a stay of prosecution on serial rapist Malcolm Rewa for the murder of Susan Burdett has not been done in New Zealand before, the Criminal Bar Association president says.

Police described the case as a "complex legal situation," and the Criminal Bar Association's president Len Anderson said as far as he knows, it has never been done before.

Ms Burdett was found bludgeoned to death in her south Auckland home in March 1992 and Rewa was tried twice for the crime.

He was found guilty of raping her, but neither jury was able to reach a verdict on whether Rewa killed her, and after the second trial he was given a stay of prosecution.

During this time, Teina Pora was already serving time for Ms Burdett's murder. He was in jail for 22 years before his convictions were quashed in 2015.

Since then, there have been calls from Ms Burdett's family and Mr Pora's lawyers for Rewa's stay of prosecution to be lifted so he could be tried a third time.

Police said yesterday Solicitor General Una Jagose had reviewed the stay of prosecution and would now apply to the High Court to re-try Rewa.

Mr Anderson said he was not aware of a situation where a stay had been lifted.

"The expectation was once a stay was granted that was it. That was the end of the matter like a conviction or acquittal."

He said the case had "very usual circumstances" because someone was already serving time for Ms Burdett's murder during Rewa's first and second trial.

"I would have thought that if there was a situtation where it was appropiate for the stay to be lifted then this would be it. The question is can it be done. Obviously, Crown Law has decided they can lift it."

In a statement, police said the legal case was "without precedent" and they were following advice from Crown Law on what they needed to do.

"The next steps will be to seek leave of the High Court to file a fresh indictment."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said a team of homicide detectives was now working on the case, in the event that a third trial was granted.

Timeline of the Susan Burdett case

  • 1987 - A woman accuses Malcolm Rewa of rape and gives his name and description to police.
  • 23 March 1992 - Susan Burdett raped and murdered in her South Auckland home.
  • 25 March 1992 - Ms Burdett's body discovered in her bedroom, bludgeoned to death.
  • 18 March 1993 - Teina Pora arrested for interfering with cars and during an interview with police he mentions the Burdett case and that he knew who was responsible.
  • 23 March 1993 - A year to the day of Ms Burdett's death, Pora is charged with Ms Burdett's murder, rape and aggravated robbery.
  • 15 Jun, 1994 - Pora found guilty.
  • May 1996 - Malcolm Rewa charged with multiple rapes.
  • 7 December 1998 - Rewa's second High Court trial. He's convicted of raping 27 women, including Ms Burdett. A jury cannot decide if he is responsible for her murder.
  • 24 December 1998 - The Solictor General decides not to retry Rewa for the murder of Ms Burdett and issues a stay of prosecution.
  • 20 January 1999 - Rewa sentenced to 14 years in prison for the rape of Ms Burdett.
  • 3 March 2015 - Pora's convictions quashed.
  • 30 June 2016 - Police Commissioner Mike Bush says he believes Rewa is guilty of Ms Burdett's murder.
  • 16 May 2017 - The Solicitor General agrees to make an application to the High Court to re-try Rewa.
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