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Rewa case may go to Supreme Court

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017

A decision about whether serial rapist Malcolm Rewa can be retried over the death of Susan Burdett may be argued all the way to the Supreme Court, the president of the Criminal Bar Association says

Police on Tuesday announced they would be applying for a third attempt at trying Rewa for the murder of Ms Burdett, who was killed in her south Auckland home in 1992.

Teina Pora was wrongfully convicted of killing the 39-year-old and served 21 years in jail before his conviction was quashed in 2015.

Rewa, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for sex attacks against 25 women - including Ms Burdett, was in 1998 tried twice for her murder, with a jury in both trials unable to reach a verdict, after which he was given a stay of prosecution.

Police say Solicitor-General Una Jagose will apply to the High Court to lift Rewa's stay of prosecution.

Criminal Bar Association president Len Andersen told NZ Newswire he was not aware of a previous case where a stay had been lifted in New Zealand and said there was no process in legislation for it.

"I suspect that the issue of whether he can be retried or not will go to the Supreme Court before anything goes to court," he said.

Mr Andersen said arguments would likely also be heard about whether Rewa could get a fair trial, although he declined to offer an opinion on the matter.

"Because if somebody wasn't going to get a fair trial it wouldn't be appropriate to lift the stay," he said.

But Rewa's former lawyer Barry Hart says a fair retrial will be impossible, calling the "almost laughable".

"With all the adverse publicity that has occurred over the many years and the substantial delay .... there's no way he can get a fair trial," he told RNZ.

"There's been massive publicity, there's probably hardly anybody in the country who is not aware of the backbones of this case."

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