Teina Pora movie could impact Malcolm Rewa's trial, says lawyer

Long Lunch 31/05/2018
Photo credit: File.

There is concern from the lawyer for rapist Malcolm Rewa who says a trial of his client could be called off.

Paul Chambers’ comments come as a movie showcasing Teina Pora’s case is scheduled to air this year.

Teina Pora wrongfully spent 20 years behind bars for the murder of Susan Burdett, a South Auckland accounts clerk who was killed in her home in 1993. Pora was freed in 2015 after a miscarriage of justice was declared by the Privy Council.

New Zealand On Air has funded his saga to be turned into a television drama, due to screen on TVNZ 1 this year.

While Teina Pora’s name was cleared, it was announced Crown Law were again going to prosecute Malcolm Rewa for Burdett’s murder.

Mr Chambers told Wendyl Nissen on The Long Lunch that the movie will prejudice Rewa’s trial.

“For a number of reasons - if we go back to the Privy Council decision the reason why Mr Pora has essentially not progressed to a third trial is because the Attorney-General made a decision that it wasn’t feasible for [the Privy Council] to continue on to a third trial.

Mr Chambers says the Privy Council found that the confession that Mr Pora had made was inadmissible and that the mental illness that he suffered, as a result of foetal alcohol syndrome, was admissible.

"But the Privy Council ultimately ruled that they needed submissions on whether there was going to be a third trial or not, and rather than having submissions the Attorney-General chose not to pursue a third trial against Mr Pora,” he told RadioLIVE.

As the Privy Council made note of in its decision, [Rewa] is a recidivist offender in relation to sexual offending.

“But the findings have been published, there’s some conclusions reached by the Privy Council that were in some way prejudicial that shouldn’t have been published, but have been presented through the media sources since the Privy Council decision,” Mr Chambers said.

“We now have a film that’s been made on the basis of the book that’s been written about Mr Pora that creates, as I understand it, scenes leading up to the death of Mrs Burdett which could easily be prejudicial to a fair trial in relation to the evidence that’s to be put to the court against Mr Rewa.”

Mr Chambers said the High Court ruled the trial could go ahead earlier this month, and a date had been set in February next year.

In Dark Places is believed to be screening on TVNZ 1 in July as part of the network’s Sunday Theatre series.

Listen to the full interview with Paul Chambers above. 

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.