Man guilty of Rae Portman's murder

Last updated 12:38 21/11/2013
Rae Portman
Rae "Bok" Portman.

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In Rae Portman's world, friends could become enemies over a single drug deal.

On a cold night in late June last year, Portman, a 33-year-old pregnant drug dealer, had gone to the home of her best friend Nicola Addison and husband Dean to collect money they owed her. Within hours, she was dead.

Today, in the High Court in Auckland, Paraire Te Awa, 33, was found guilty of her kidnapping and murder. Dean Michael Addison, 36, was found guilty of kidnapping, supplying methamphetamine and possessing a methamphetamine precursor.

The jury was told that the night she died was the third time Portman had visited the Addisons to try to collect her debt, a $15,000 payment for a ''set'' of ContactNT, the prime ingredient for methamphetamine. The first two times, the Addisons had hid from her. They didn't have the money. And Portman was angry.

''Why the f...k hasn't Dean rung?'' she'd texted, the trial heard. ''I'm getting f...ed off. What am I going to say to my mates?''  

The Addisons knew her ''mates'' were dangerous - high-level drug dealers with potential links to gangs like the Head Hunters and King Cobras. Portman was trying to ''work her way to the top'', associates said, but they feared she was out of her depth. Often she would return from ''business'' trips beaten and bruised.

On the night of June 20, 2012, Bok, as her friends called her, arrived to yet another dangerous situation. Instead of being met by her friends at the door, she was gagged, bound and stuffed in the boot of her car by the Addisons' neighbour, Paraire ''Friday'' Te Awa and their ''whipping boy'' Lee Rigby.    

And then Portman met with her death, strangled by Te Awa in a building site in Hamilton, with Rigby watching from nearby. The Addisons were at home. Neither of them ever text-messaged her again.

''[This is the] dirty, grubby underbelly of society that is the drug world,'' Te Awa's lawyer Peter Kaye, said in his closing address to the jury. ''Dog-eat-dog, greed, the almighty dollar where even friends can become enemies over a piece of meth or cannabis.  

''You've seen it in this case between Rae Portman and her best friends Nicola and Dean Addison, that's what drugs do - they turn even friends against each other.

''It's a horrible, dirty, filthy business, make no mistake about that.''   

It would take three months of police appeals before the 33-year-old's murder would come to light.

Her corpse was found in September 2012, buried under rubbish bags in a pit in South Auckland.

There were no signs of strangulation, but a lack of oxygen was ruled as the cause of death.

The case put forward by the Crown linked three players to her demise.

Te Awa was the muscle who killed her. Addison was charged with kidnapping Portman, along with drug offences.

Rigby, 33, was jailed for three years nine months for kidnapping Portman and helping to dispose of her body.

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Rigby's offer to be a star witness in the case against his former friends reduced his sentence time. He told the court how he drove to Hamilton in tandem with Te Awa on June 21, 2012, where he watched him strangle her to death in an industrial area using a makeshift noose.

Te Awa stuffed her body back into her car and hid the vehicle under a trampoline.   

He returned later to remove the body and dump it in a pit on a rural Clevedon property.

Before the facts emerged, Addison was asked to be a pallbearer at Portman's funeral because his wife was supposedly good friends with her.

However, Portman's mother Rebecca Norton said she received a cold response from Addison at the funeral.

''I went to give him a friendly hug and there was no response. He stood, basically still, with his hands in his pockets and didn't speak.'' Friends described Portman as ''an angel''- but recognised she was no saint.

Her former boyfriend said she was also known for angry outbursts and drug dealing.

He told the court Portman was part of a KOA gang, or Kiss Our Arse, and had a reputation for having a big mouth.

They wrote on Portman's Facebook dedication wall of a good woman who is now with the angels.

There was also hope Portman's wrong choices could help others avoid the dark world she inhabited.

''You've had a big affect (sic) on me which has caused me to re-evaluate the way I look at life,'' a female friend wrote on Facebook.

''[It] is an awful way to realise the importance of the company u (sic) keep! I really hope you and your baby are in a better place now.''

- Stuff

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