19 Nov 2013

Portman jury retires for night

8:56 pm on 19 November 2013

Jurors in the Rae Portman murder trial have retired for the night and will resume deliberations on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old pregnant Hamilton woman went missing in June 2012 and her body was found in a pit on a South Auckland farm three months later.

The Crown says the woman was kidnapped and murdered by Paraire Te Awa over a drugs deal worth $5000. He has pleaded not guilty.

Another man, Dean Addison, denies kidnapping and drugs charges.

The trial, now in its fourth week, has heard from more than 80 witnesses for the Crown and three for the defence.

Justice Toogood on Tuesday encouraged jurors to set aside feelings of sympathy they may feel for Rae Portman, given that she was bound and gagged and, according to the Crown, spent hours in the boot of a car before being strangled.

Defence closing arguments

In his closing argument, the defence lawyer for Paraire Te Awa told the court there are a number of reasons why the jurors cannot rely on the Crown's star witness.

Lee Rigby is serving a jail term for kidnapping Ms Portman and told the court he saw Mr Te Awa strangle Ms Portman in an industrial area of Hamilton.

But Peter Kaye told jurors that Rigby was a meth addict who had been described by some witnesses as a liar.

Mr Kaye said Rigby also received a healthy discount off his prison sentence, but potentially faced more time behind bars if he did not cooperate with police.

Dean Addison's lawyer Mark Ryan said there is no evidence to show that his client was involved in the kidnapping apart from statements from Rigby, who worked for him.

Mr Ryan told the jury that Rigby's evidence is unreliable, as he is a convicted criminal and someone who was addicted to methamphetamine.