3rd Degree: Police Tapes Suggest Miscarriage Of Justice
Wednesday 13 March, 2013
Tonight On 3rd Degree: Police Tapes Suggest Miscarriage Of Justice In 20-Year-Old Susan Burdett Murder Case
Video recordings of police interviews now at the centre of a miscarriage of justice case have screened for the first time on television as part of a 3rd Degree investigation.
The tapes, which were used in the police case against teenager Teina Pora, are now being used as evidence in a legal challenge which aims to prove his innocence.
Teina Pora has twice been convicted of the 1992 murder and rape of Susan Burdett in her Papatoetoe, Auckland home. He remains in prison, almost 20 years to the day since his arrest.
In the special investigation which screened tonight, reporter Paula Penfold and producer Eugene Bingham made the case for Pora’s innocence, and suggested that another man, serial rapist Malcolm Rewa, committed the crime.
During the police interviews 17-year-old Pora claims
that he drove two men to the scene of the murder, but the
17-year-old gets several key facts wrong. The video footage
also reveals Pora made contradictory statements - and that
police had to point out to him the house where the murder
3rd Degree also revealed new information about the case including important revelations from those involved in the police case:
- The key police witness who gave evidence
linking Teina Pora and Malcolm Rewa now says she is not sure
it was Rewa at all.
Witness: I told them [police] he looked like Rewa whatever his name was.
3rd Degree: what do you think now, do you still think that it was him? Do you still think that it was Malcolm Rewa?
Witness: I have no idea. I don’t know what I think any more.
- A family member who was paid by police after giving evidence against Teina Pora tells the programme that she believes he did not commit the rape or murder. She now says he was arrested “because it was 12 months after [the murder]…and they had to arrest somebody, so they arrested Teina”.
- A woman whom Teina had
allegedly given a set of earrings belonging to Susan Burdett
denies she ever received any earrings from him. She says she
told the police this before the case went to trial but she
was never called to give evidence.
- An experienced detective warned superiors that the teenager was not telling the truth about his involvement in the murder and rape of Susan Burdett. “He appeared to me to be a stupid kid who wanted to big note,” the officer told 3rd Degree.
- A criminal profiler whose evidence was never given to the Teina Pora jury is convinced Malcolm Rewa acted alone in attacking Susan Burdett and that in his 27 rapes (including the Burdett case) “there were no cases where another adult was also on the premises”.
Journalist Paula Penfold says the decision to advocate for Teina Pora’s innocence was only taken after reading all the court files, tracking down witnesses and watching the interviews.
"It's not something that we take lightly, advocating so strongly, but the evidence is compelling as are the changes in witnesses’ testimonies since,” she says.
“And after going through everything, meeting Teina has been an experience; seeing how grateful he is for the work that people are doing to free him is quite humbling as a journalist."
3rd Degree – Wednesdays,
8.30pm on TV3 - 3News.co.nz/3rdegree
MediaWorks NZ Limited (website: www.mediaworks.co.nz) is New Zealand’s leading private sector broadcast and online media company. Through its specialist divisions – MediaWorks TV, MediaWorks Radio and MediaWorks Interactive, it owns and operates the TV3 and FOUR television networks, national radio brands The Edge, The Rock, MORE FM, Kiwi FM, RadioLIVE, LiveSPORT, The Sound, The Breeze, George FM and Mai FM, plus several local radio stations, and a family of websites.