Rae Portman's kidnapper pleads guilty

ROB KIDD
Last updated 14:03 20/03/2013
Rae Portman
VICTIM: Rae "Bok" Portman.

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The man accused of kidnapping Rae Portman has pleaded guilty this afternoon.

Lee Rigby, 32, appeared in Manukau District Court today to admit to the single charge.

Portman, 33, went missing in Auckland in June, which sparked a huge police effort focused on tracing her steps.

They confirmed Portman had contacts in the drug world and several arrests were made as a result of the police work but they were unconnected to her disappearance.

Her body was found in September at the back of a rural Ardmore property.

At a press conference only days before the body was found Portman's mother, Rebecca Norton, revealed her daughter was four months pregnant when she disappeared.

On September 27, Paraire Te Awa, 32, appeared in Papakura District Court charged with her kidnapping.

A charge of murder was added at a subsequent appearance.

Shortly afterwards Rigby was also up in court but initially there was heavy suppression around publication of his name or any details, because police had fears for his safety.

However, that lapsed in January and Rigby has been on bail since.

Today, after a period of in-chambers discussions where media were excluded, his counsel Stuart Blake made no application to continue bail and Rigby was convicted and remanded in custody until his sentencing next month.

Crown prosecutors would not disclose the case’s facts today because it might prejudice a fair trial for his co-accused.

Te Awa will appear in court again later this month.

Outside court the officer in charge of the case Detective Inspector Mark Gutry said he was pleased with Rigby’s admission of guilty, describing it as “another step in the process”.

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