19 Mar 2014

Pora's team outline appeal bid

3:21 pm on 19 March 2014

Details of convicted murderer and rapist Teina Pora's appeal bid to the Privy Council have been heard for the first time.

Teina Pora at the High Court on Tuesday.

Teina Pora at the High Court on Tuesday. Photo: RNZ / Olivia Wix

Pora has been convicted twice for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett but many, including the Police Association and the Labour Party, have called for a review of the case.

Pora's lawyer Jonathan Krebs asked the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday to grant his client bail ahead of the Privy Council appeal to be heard later this year.

Usually legal arguments made during bail hearings are automatically suppressed but following an application by Radio New Zealand, Justice Lang allowed reporting of most of the hearing.

Mr Krebs said Pora's legal team had a new expert opinion on false confessions.

He said it also found out this week that Pora had a disorder on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, which could influence the reliability of Pora's confession.

Mr Krebs said he would be arguing that the confession evidence should never have gone before a jury.

He also reminded the court no DNA evidence had been found at the scene that linked his client to the crime.

The Crown says Pora was with Malcolm Rewa, whose DNA was found at the scene. Rewa was eventually convicted of raping 25 women, including Ms Burdett.

But Mr Krebs said what was not put before Pora's trials was that Rewa suffered from erectile dysfunction, and it would not make sense for Rewa to have Pora with him while he offended because of the potential embarrassment.

Mr Krebs also pointed out that Rewa and Pora were from different gangs.

Justice Lang said he did not have sufficient information to determine the bail hearing based on evidence but Mr Krebs said he was pointing out that the appeal was not based on a legal technicality but substantial and fresh evidence.

Crown lawyer Matthew Downs said it was not the time to argue the strength of the appeal but said the Crown would be challenging the expert evidence on confessions.

Dr Downs also said the confession evidence had already been before the Court of Appeal, which found it was reliable and allowed it to go before the jury.

Justice Lang imposed a suppression order over only part of the proceeding and reserved his decision. However, he expected to release a finding next week.

Tuesday's hearing was not Pora's only bid to get out of prison before the Privy Council appeal; he will face a parole hearing at the end of the month.

Pora will turn 39 in June and has spent more than half his life in prison; having been arrested at the age of 17.

He was sentenced to life in prison and has served 21 years.