A key Crown witness against two men charged with the kidnap
and murder of a Hamilton woman has denied killing her
Lee Rigby, who is already in prison for his role in the
kidnapping of Rae Colleen Portman, 33, who went missing in
June last year, took the witness stand in Auckland High Court
for a second day today.
Ms Portman, who was four months pregnant when she died, was
found in September 2012 dumped in a pit and covered in
rubbish bags on an Ardmore farm.
Paraire Te Awa, known as 'Friday', has been charged with her
murder and kidnap, while Dean Michael Addison faces a charge
of kidnapping and two drugs offences. Both have pleaded not
In almost a full day of cross-examination by Te Awa's defence
lawyer Peter Kay, Rigby was accused of lying about the events
of June 20 and 21 - the overnight period in which Ms Portman
is alleged to have been killed - and was portrayed as a
drug-addled, angry man who strangled Ms Portman himself over
drug debts she had mounted up.
It has already been established that Ms Portman was involved
in the transport and distribution of pseudoephedrine, the
substance used to make methamphetamine, and was a meth user.
The prosecution argues that Addison ordered her kidnapper to
"teach her a lesson" over a drug deal, and that Te Awa then
took the threat one step further and killed her.
It is alleged that Te Awa bound and gagged her, stuffed her
into the boot of her black Mazda, and with Rigby, drove to
Hamilton where she was strangled.
However, Mr Kaye today questioned Rigby's version of events,
in particular the details of her death, and asked if he had
been the one who killed her.
"Absolutely not," Rigby replied.
Mr Kaye said the journey Rigby described, driving to Hamilton
with Te Awa on the night of June 20 - of which there is CCTV
footage and service station receipts to place them on the
route - was simply to deliver the Mazda to a friend in
Ngaruawahia, and did not involve Ms Portman's body in the
boot of the car or her killing.
"Why would I concoct a story to have myself arrested for
kidnap then?' Rigby said.
He denied knowing anything about whether Ms Portman was "not
delivering" on her drug deals, failing to come up with the
money for her bosses - understood to be top-end gang members
- and that he had any connection to her meth dealing
Rigby stuck to his evidence that he was threatened by Te Awa
to drive the Mazda to Hamilton, where he witnessed him tying
a noose around Ms Portman's neck and tightening until she
died. This included details of how he made the mechanism with
a motorcycle strop and handle, despite admitting he was
standing away from the car in a "very dark" industrial site.
He claims they then drove back to Auckland, stopping at the
Ngaruawahia home to hide the car under a trampoline.
Rigby denies going to the farm to dump her body, saying the
only times he went to the Papakura-Clevedon Road property
after Ms Portman's death was under orders from Addison to
collect tools and a trailer.
However, he did admit he had attempted to destroy the number
plates of Ms Portman's Mazda, which he says were discovered
in the car workshop of Addison's Papakura home in the weeks
after the murder, and were later found by police in a bin
outside the property.
He said he had been concerned about being "fixed up" for Ms
Portman's murder, as Mr Kaye was "trying to do right now" in
The trial continues on Monday, and is expected to last
another two weeks.
- Patrice Dougan of APNZ