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Teina Pora gets apology, compensation

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/06/2016 By Sarah Robson

Teina Pora has received an unreserved apology from the Crown and will get $2.5 million in compensation for the two decades he wrongfully spent behind bars.

An independent review of Mr Pora's case by retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen has found that, on the balance of probabilities, he is innocent and played no part in the 1992 rape and murder of Auckland woman Susan Burdett.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says cabinet has accepted that finding and agreed to pay just over $2.5m in compensation for Mr Pora's wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Ms Adams has also written to Mr Pora to acknowledge his innocence and unreservedly apologise to him for the "devastating impact" his time in prison has had on his life.

Mr Pora asked Ms Adams to read out the apology letter at a press conference on Wednesday where she announced the decision - something Ms Adams said she was happy to do.

"I acknowledge that over the past two decades you have suffered considerably, including the many years you spent away from your young daughter, as a result of your convictions and imprisonment," Ms Adams' letter said.

"While it can never completely remedy the injustice you have suffered, I hope that the Crown's offer of compensation can go some way in helping you and your family build a better future together."

Mr Pora's legal team said he is overwhelmed and deeply moved by the apology.

However, his lawyers have questioned the amount of compensation on offer - saying it should have been adjusted for inflation - and they will be taking a couple of days to consider it.

"One can't be ungracious about the award and about the offer of compensation, but at the same time one can't loose sight of the fact this man suffered 22 years' incarceration in one form or another for crimes he did not commit," lawyer Jonathan Krebs said.

Mr Pora was convicted in 1994, and again in 2000, of Ms Burdett's rape and murder.

But in March last year, the Privy Council in London quashed his convictions and did not order a retrial.

He submitted his claim for compensation a month later.

Before cabinet made its decision, Mr Hansen was appointed to provide advice on both the question of Mr Pora's innocence, as well as the appropriate amount of compensation he should receive.

In his report, Mr Hansen said the state of the evidence in Mr Pora's case is such that he could have proved his innocence to an even higher standard than simply the balance of probabilities.

He also noted the "undisputed evidence" leads to the "irresistible inference" that Malcolm Rewa, who was convicted of Ms Burdett's rape but not her murder, was solely responsible for the crime.

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