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Teina Pora's apology and compensation

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/06/2016

TEINA PORA'S APOLOGY AND COMPENSATION

Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced Teina Pora will get $2.5 million in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. He's also received a formal apology from the Crown.

THE BACKGROUND

Pora was twice convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of Auckland woman Susan Burdett and spent more than 20 years in prison for the crime. In 2015, the Privy Council in London quashed his convictions and didn't order a retrial.

THE COMPENSATION PROCESS

After the Privy Council's ruling, Pora and his legal team lodged a claim for compensation with Justice Minister Amy Adams. Cabinet ultimately decides on compensation, but it seeks independent advice on both the question of innocence and how much compensation should be paid. Retired High Court judge Rodney Hansen was appointed to look into Pora's case.

PORA'S INNOCENCE

Hansen found that, on the balance of probabilities, Pora is innocent. However, Hansen went further than that and said, on the evidence, Pora could have proved his innocence to an even higher standard. That finding ultimately meant Pora was eligible for compensation.

HANSEN'S KEY FINDINGS

* Pora's confession to police was affected by his fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

* His version of events can't withstand critical scrutiny and all indications are that he made it up as he went along

* Time and time again Pora showed he had no idea what happened - he didn't know how to get to Burdett's house, he didn't know the house, he didn't know what she looked like

* He didn't disclose anything he could have known only if he had been present

* "His account is so plainly a fabrication that it collapses under its own weight"

WHAT ABOUT MALCOLM REWA?

Malcolm Rewa was convicted in 1998 of raping Burdett, but a jury couldn't decide if he murdered her. Hansen found the "undisputed evidence" leads to the "irresistible inference" that Rewa acted alone and was solely responsible for the rape and murder of Burdett.

COMPENSATION

Cabinet has agreed to pay Pora just over $2.5m in compensation, which is what Hansen recommended in accordance with guidelines. Hansen had recommended that part of the compensation payment be inflation adjusted, but cabinet decided against this. Adams said no one else who had been compensated under the guidelines had had their payments inflation adjusted.

WHAT DOES PORA SAY?

Pora hasn't commented himself, but his legal team has. His lawyers said he is deeply moved by the Crown's apology. However, they're disappointed by the compensation offer and will be thinking it over.

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