Body find relief and shock for friends

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 30/09/2012
Rae Portman
Police have identified Rae Portman's body.

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It was their greatest fear.

Rae Portman's mother and her friends have continually talked of nightmares about her body being out in the open, exposed.

Yesterday police confirmed the body found on Thursday afternoon in Ardmore, South Auckland, was Portman's.

The police said it was covered but essentially she had been dumped by a creek at the back of someone's property.

Her body could have been there for three months.

Portman, who had connections in the world of methamphetamine dealing, was last seen at a Mt Albert motel on June 20.

Phone records place the 33-year-old, who was four months pregnant when she went missing, at Papakura that evening and in Hamilton the following day.

Police have the two vehicles they believe were involved - a black Mazda Astina and a yellow Holden Commodore ute - and the movements of those vehicles were central to the case, said Detective Inspector Mark Gutry.

Stacey*, a friend of Portman's, said it was difficult to imagine her final moments.

“It's just so undignified, just leaving her like a piece of rubbish,” she said.

“It's a shame our laws don't cover unborn babies - it's a double murder in our eyes.”

Although there was sadness among the group of mates, there was relief the body had been found.

There had been widespread paranoia among Portman's friends in recent weeks as they all suspected each other of knowing something about the disappearance.

Despite name suppression being granted to a 32-year-old Hamilton man who appeared in Papakura District Court last week accused of kidnapping Portman, Stacey had learned his name and was relieved to find out he was not a close friend. However, he was someone known to the group.

There had originally been rumours that Portman's disappearance had something to do with her pregnancy but Stacey no longer thought that was the case.

There was talk Portman was becoming more involved in the production of methamphetamine and had a few “sets” (scientific apparatus used to produce P) but Gutry would not confirm any potential motives.

But it was not as though people in the methamphetamine scene needed a sound reason to inflict serious injuries, Stacey said.

“People say she owed [money] but she didn't have to. Someone could have just made up a lie,” she said.

“It doesn't matter who you are or what you are in that scene.”

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Portman's mother refused to speak to the Sunday Star-Times and Stacey said she and Portman's brother, who was on his way back from his home in Australia, were “very, very upset”.

The Facebook site created by police appealing for information also allowed Portman's friends to vent their frustration at what they perceived as shortcomings by those working on the case.

But Stacey said there was surprise at how quickly police had found the body, “especially considering they were working with people who have it ingrained in them to stonewall cops”.

Police have hinted at further arrests but Stacey said that for friends and family at least, there was some closure at last.

* Not her real name

- © Fairfax NZ News

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