Rewa stands trial third time over Burdett death

Malcolm Rewa in court this morning. Photo: NZ Herald
Malcolm Rewa in court this morning. Photo: NZ Herald

More than 20 years since he last faced a jury, convicted rapist Malcolm Rewa is being tried for a third time for the murder of Auckland woman Susan Burdett.

Susan Burdett pictured in 1989. Photo: file
Susan Burdett pictured in 1989. Photo: file

Rewa walked into an Auckland courtroom today with his shoulders hunched and a ring hanging from his neck.

The now elderly man, wearing a green shirt tucked into grey sweatpants, was likely recognised by "a number if not all" of the prospective jurors standing patiently in the public gallery, Justice Geoffrey Venning said.

Some would also recall Burdett's name, the Chief High Court Judge added.

"Many of you may have made a connection between them and Teina Pora," he continued, talking about the high-profile nature of the case.

Gareth Kayes will lead a team of three to prosecute the case for the Crown, while Rewa is represented by lawyer Paul Chambers.

The trial, in the High Court at Auckland, is expected to last about four weeks.

Teina Pora was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. Photo: NZ Herald
Teina Pora was wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Susan Burdett. Photo: NZ Herald

Burdett was raped and bludgeoned to death in her Papatoetoe home in 1992.

In 1998, Rewa was convicted of having raped Burdett, but two juries were unable to decide whether he murdered her.

Pora, however, was twice wrongly convicted for murdering Burdett.

He spent 22 years in prison before the Privy Council quashed his conviction in 2015 and has since received an apology from the Government and $3.5 million in compensation.

Malcolm Rewa has past convictions for several rapes. Photo: file
Malcolm Rewa has past convictions for several rapes. Photo: file

A stay of proceedings for a murder prosecution against Rewa was applied by the Solicitor-General in 1998, but in 2017 the Deputy Solicitor-General, on behalf of the Attorney-General, reversed the stay.

Justice Venning also earlier dismissed an application to stay the murder charge against Rewa, who has convictions for raping several other women in the 1990s and is currently serving a preventive detention prison sentence.

Last May, Justice Venning further declined an application by Chambers for a judicial review of the decision to lift the stay.

The judge has said he was "satisfied that Mr Rewa can receive a fair trial ... and that it is in the interests of justice for the trial to proceed".

A stay had never before been lifted in New Zealand's legal history.

 

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