Teina Pora granted parole

02:05, Mar 31 2014
Teina Pora
TEINA PORA: Waiting for his case to be heard by the Privy Council.

Convicted rapist and murderer Teina Pora has been granted parole.

Pora has spent 21 years in jail for the 1994 rape and murder of Susan Burdett in her South Auckland home, although he has recently been granted leave to appeal his conviction to the Privy Council in London.

The High Court last week declined bail pending his appeal but the Parole Board today released a statement saying Pora had been granted parole as he " no longer poses an undue risk to the safety of the community".

He will be released on an undisclosed date.

Pora's lawyer Jonathan Krebs said he was pleased and relieved by the Parole Board's decision.

"It's the outcome we've been trying for for the last 13 times we've come to the Parole Board, so one never expects a result, one always hopes," he said.

"And we were hopeful today.

"We're now obviously going to let the dust settle a bit and then we'll continue to focus on the Privy Council hearing later in the year," he said.

Private investigator Tim McKinnel, who helped with the case, said parole had been a long time coming.

"We've come to learn over the years not to expect anything and just turn up with an open mind and do your best," he said.

"Today Teina did that, and he did really well, and now he's got the rewards for it." McKinnel was with Pora throughout the hearing and spoke with him afterwards.

"[Pora] was pretty emotional about it all, but very, very pleased and looking forward to what's ahead," McKinnel said.

The Maori Party also welcomed the news of Pora's parole.

"Releasing Teina on parole is the right thing to do and we now hope that the Privy Council will be able to overturn the original conviction," Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell said.

Pora was refused parole last year after it emerged he had gone to a visit a prostitute in the company of another criminal while on "home leave" - short-release stays at home in preparation for parole.

The board said Pora was not sanctioned for having sex, but for his breach of the conditions of his home leave, and his evasiveness in his explanations to the board.

"The lack of frankness and honesty in his responses were disquieting," it said. The board said Pora had a "disturbing criminal history" before entering prison. He had accumulating more than 70 convictions by the age of 18.

Pora was convicted in 1994 for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett, 39, who was found bludgeoned to death in her Papatoetoe home in 1992.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1994 and convicted after the second of two jury trials, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

However, Pora's lawyers argue there was no direct evidence that linked him to the scene, and that he was convicted largely because of a false confession.

Questions have been raised over the convictions and groups, including the Police Association, have called for an independent inquiry into the case.

Most Pora advocates instead point the finger at convicted rapist Malcolm Rewa, who in 1998 was convicted of raping Burdett after he was linked to semen from the scene.

Two juries could not reach a decision about whether he murdered her. Rewa is serving preventive detention for solo attacks on 25 women.

On January 31, Pora was granted leave to appeal to the Privy Council.

Krebs told the High Court during Pora's bail application that his client had a strong appeal case.

Pora's conviction was based largely on his confession, which a psychologist and a psychiatrist had now thrown into doubt by diagnosing him with a condition on the foetal alcohol spectrum, Krebs said.

The confession was "so demonstrably unreliable" that the jury should not have seen it, he said.

Krebs said the Privy Council would also consider that Rewa had erectile dysfunction. Pora's second trial did not hear that fact, and coupled with Pora being from a rival gang, it was unlikely Rewa would have taken a second person with him to commit his crimes.