9 Sep 2011

Killer applies for Royal Prerogative of Mercy

12:09 pm on 9 September 2011

A man imprisoned for the rape and murder of a woman in March 1992 has applied for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy in the first step towards reopening the case.

Susan Burdett was found in her bedroom in Papatoetoe. She had been bludgeoned to death with a bat she kept under her bed for protection.

Teina Pora was convicted in 1994, but the Court of Appeal ordered another trial after DNA from Malcolm Rewa, a serial rapist, was linked to the attack.

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

In 2000, Pora was retried and found guilty of the rape and murder.

Lawyers for Pora say no direct evidence has ever linked him to the scene, and he was convicted largely on the basis of a false confession.

Government House has confirmed it has received Pora's application, which will now be referred to the Minister of Justice for formal advice.

Ultimately, the lawyers want the case sent back to the Court of Appeal to get Pora's conviction quashed.

Radio New Zealand's Justice reporter says Pora, 36, first went prison as a Mongrel Mob prospect, aged 17. He's now held in Auckland prison at Paremoremo.

Chances slim - lawyer

Lawyer Neville Trendle, who carried out a review of the procedures for convicted people to apply for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, says it is a very difficult hurdle to get over.

In the last 15 years, 130 people have applied for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy. Sixteen had their case referred back to either the High Court of the Court of Appeal.

Mr Trendle says the process can take some time. Unless new evidence can presented, he says the chances of success are slim.