13 Nov 2013

Portman defence witness gives emotional testimony

10:50 pm on 13 November 2013

The wife of one of the men charged with kidnapping Rae Portman broke down in court on Wednesday as she spoke of hearing about the kidnap.

Ms Portman, who was 33, went missing in June 2012 and her body was found on a South Auckland farm in September of that year.

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

The Crown says the Hamilton woman was kidnapped over a drug deal gone wrong.

The defence began its case on Wednesday and included evidence from Nicola Addison.

She told the court she struggled to recall a conversation she had with a friend of her husband's who told her that he saw Rae Portman gagged and bound.

Mrs Addison said Lee Rigby told her that, as well as seeing Ms Portman tied up, he also helped Paraire Te Awa drive her to Hamilton.

Later under cross-examination from Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery, she denied that her husband was dealing drugs with Ms Portman.

Mrs Addison was taken through pages of her husband's text messages which the Crown says prove he was dealing methamphetamine. She said the messages could be referring to the marijuana he smoked, but denied that he was also dealing methamphetamine.

The woman broke down in court as she spoke of Rae Portman being like a sister. She said they met through her brother when she was 17. Now 36, she wept as she described how close she and Ms Portman had become.

Earlier, Mr Addison's lawyer Mark Ryan told the jury that his client had cooperated with police and on one occasion gave them a 12-hour interview. He said Mr Addison denied any involvement in the kidnapping or supplying methamphetamine.

Opening the defence for Paraire Te Awa, his lawyer Peter Kaye told the court his client will be relying on interviews he gave to police in the days after Ms Portman's disappearance and will not be giving evidence.

A lengthy police interview with Mr Te Awa was played to jurors in which he repeatedly denies any involvement in the killing. In it, he tells officers he had had very little to do with Ms Portman and no reason to hurt her.