Rewa says he didn't rape or kill Susan Burdett

Malcolm Rewa in court today. Photo: RNZ
Malcolm Rewa in court today. Photo: RNZ

Serial rapist Malcolm Rewa has told a court he will not ever forgive himself for hurting women - but he didn't rape or murder Susan Burdett.

Rewa, who is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, began giving evidence in his own defence today. He is being tried for the third time.

The 65-year-old hobbled into the dock with the aid of a walking stick before telling the jury he had found God.

Rewa said he'd spent the better part of 23 years in jail grappling with the gravity of his offending and felt terrible shame about what he had done.

Susan Burdett. Photo: NZ Herald
Susan Burdett. Photo: NZ Herald

"I couldn't imagine any one of them forgiving me for what I'd done because I can feel their pain now because I'm able to reflect back on what I did. I'd never put myself in that situation to ask for their forgiveness."

He went on to say he didn't deserve their forgiveness and didn't think he would ever have the strength to forgive himself either.

However, he told his lawyer Paul Chambers that he didn't rape  or kill Ms Burdett.

He said he met the Auckland woman at  her workplace in 1990 and sold her the drug ecstasy when she was having relationship problems.

Rewa said they started having sex in late 1991 and they shared a pill of ecstasy before having consensual sex the night she died.

Rewa was convicted of raping Ms Burdett in 1998 - a crime he continues to deny - but juries in two separate trials were unable to decide if he also murdered her.

He told the court they had sex a number of times in his truck, at his home and under the trig station on Māngere Mountain.

Rewa said he could not remember when he first heard about Ms Burdett's killing but said he didn't go to police when he did hear about it because of the series of rapes he was committing.

"Had I have done that I would have been opening myself up to everything that I was doing; going around and doing what I was doing to the women."

"The spree of rapes and burglaries?" Mr Chambers interrupted.

"Yes. I was more worried about that than manning up so I didn't go anywhere near the police."

Mr Chambers asked him how he felt when he heard the news.

"You know all the years that I've been coming to court for this ... nobody ever asked me about the friendship we had. All they were worried about was finding someone to blame for her murder.

"All these years not once has anybody ever said how do you feel about losing your friend because that's what she was; she wasn't just Susan Burdett she was my friend too. Sure, the family lost their daughter, they lost their sister, but she was still a friend to me."

This came into contention under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes who referenced a transcript from a previous trial where Mr Rewa had said he didn't have warm feelings for her.

"Do you remember saying 'it was like I didn't have warm feelings for her it was a friendship, it was an income and it was sex'?"

Rewa conceded he had said that but denied Mr Kayes' proposition that he was exaggerating their relationship.

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