24 Aug 2015

Calls for Susan Burdett murder case review

12:07 pm on 24 August 2015

A private investigator says the police owe it to the family of murdered Auckland woman Susan Burdett to investigate claims of new evidence in relation to the case.

Ms Burdett was raped and killed in her south Auckland home in 1992.

Malcolm Rewa was convicted of Susan Burdett's rape.

Malcolm Rewa was convicted of Susan Burdett's rape. Photo: Supplied

Her neighbour told the TV3 current affairs programme 3D that she saw the man convicted of her rape, Malcolm Rewa, parked in the driveway on the night of the murder.

Rewa was found guilty of raping Ms Burdett, but two High Court juries could not decide if he murdered her.

Teina Pora spent more than 22 years in prison for her rape and murder. His convictions were quashed by the Privy Council earlier this year.

The private investigator who fought to have Mr Pora's name cleared told Morning Report the police's refusal to investigate the evidence was incredibly frustrating.

Teina Pora's legal team (L-R) Jonathan Krebs, Ingrid Squire and investigator Tim McKinnel

Tim McKinnel Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Tim McKinnel said it was a matter of giving Ms Burdett's family closure, and it wasn't about placing blame on the police.

"We're not out to inflict reputational damage, it's not about that, it's about what happened to Susan and what Susan and her family deserve," he said.

"It's very straighforward, and I just hope somebody would have the courage."

Mr McKinnel said the information highlighted the need for police to take a fresh, objective look at the case.

"It's very clear to me that the case itself needs proper, full and objective review from start to finish," he said.

"What we want is fresh people to conduct that review. The people that are involved, and have been involved in trying to resist Teina's appeal to the Privy Council, were also heavily involved in the case back in the 1990s, and I'm not sure that they've been properly objective about it."

Mr McKinnel said it was time a close look was taken at the case.

"We very much want Susan's murder to be solved and it's important to us that everything that possibly can be done, is done - and I don't think at this point that's the case."

The police have now said they will respond later today to the claims of new evidence.

But a lawyer told Morning Report the new evidence was not surprising, and does not change much.

Steve Bonnar QC said it was known Rewa was at the scene - so a sighting of him in the area was no surprise.

"We know that Malcolm Rewa was there, his DNA was found on Ms Burdett, so it's not particularly surprising that he may have been seen in the area."

Labour Party justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern also believed the role of Malcolm Rewa needed to be re-examined.

"The decision by the Privy Council to quash charges against Teina Pora should have been reason enough for the case to be reopened," she said.

"No one can turn a blind eye to what has been added to this case... it's time for action to be taken."

The Solicitor-General stayed further prosecution of Rewa after his second trial in 1998, and it would require exceptional circumstances to lift that.