31 Oct 2013

Portman witness denies taking part in killing

7:33 pm on 31 October 2013

The Crown's star witness has denied murdering Hamilton woman Rae Portman, despite being involved in the kidnapping.

Ms Portman was 33 years old and pregnant when she went missing in June 2012. Her body was found at a South Auckland farm three months later.

Paraire Te Awa is on trial at the High Court in Auckland and denies charges of kidnapping and murdering Ms Portman before dumping her body in a pit. Another man, Dean Addison, has denied kidnapping and drugs charges.

Mr Te Awa's lawyer, Peter Kaye, on Thursday cross-examined Lee Rigby, who is serving a prison sentence for his part in the kidnapping.

Mr Kaye said Rigby seemed to know a lot about the details of the death and asked if he was the man who did it.

Rigby emphatically denied that he had carried out the killing and said he thought the plan was just to scare Ms Portman.

He told the court that, instead, Mr Te Awa led them to a secluded area in Hamilton where Mr Te Awa strangled her.

Rigby confirmed that he took class A drugs on more than one occasion and said he used methamphetamine the day Ms Portman disappeared.

Rigby also confirmed that he got had time off his sentence for giving evidence at the trial. However, he said he would still be giving evidence - even if there was no incentive - and was only doing what was right.