Teina Pora free after 20 years “He’s the man, he’s the innocent man. It’s your night Teina.”

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TeinaPoraFree

(NZ Herald, by Phil Taylor)

Justice after 20 years in jail: Teina Pora finally free as Privy Council quashes convictions for Susan Burdett murder

The Privy Council in London has quashed Teina Pora’s convictions for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett in south Auckland in 1992.

The decision means Mr Pora is a free man. His parole conditions immediately fall away. The former star schoolboy rugby league player was released on parole last April after spending 20 years in prison.

The Privy Council’s decision was given to Mr Pora by his support team, which included private investigator Tim McKinnel and lawyers Jonathan Krebs and Ingrid Squire, about an hour before it was publicly announced at 10pm.

Mr Pora watched the decision delivered by live feed from the London court at the Auckland home of Michael Bennett, director of the award-winning documentary about the case, Confessions of Prisoner T.

He was surrounded by about 30 supporters including his daughter Channelle Bennett, grandson Benson, 5, and Pastor Billy Retimana and his wife Winnie, whose home Mr Pora has been living at since released on parole.

[quote_center]Mr McKinnel said it was an emotional time for Mr Pora after such a long time in prison. “Teina is overjoyed and overwhelmed.”[/quote_center]

The decision was reached by a panel of the judicial committee of the Privy Council made up of the New Zealand Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, and four Law Lords, including Lord Kerr, who delivered the decision.

He said written submissions on whether a retrial should be held would need to be filed within four weeks.

“Those convictions had to be quashed and that Mr Pora’s appeal be allowed,” he said.

Mr Krebs told the gathering for Mr Pora that they were delighted that the Privy Council did not automatically order a re-trial and said it was a 99.9 per cent result, to cheering from supporters. “He’s the man, he’s the innocent man. It’s your night Teina.”

Mr Pora’s daughter hugged her father and said of the decision: “That’s so good to hear.”

Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police would take time to “fully consider the judgment and expect to be consulted by Crown Law regarding any Crown submissions on re-trial”.

He cited a comment from the Privy Council which relation to Mr Pora’s confession: “In the present case it is clear that none of the police officers exerted pressure on Pora. Indeed, they were, if anything, fastidiously correct in their treatment of him.”

In November, Solicitor-General Michael Heron, QC, told the Herald that even if the Privy Council recommended a retrial, one might not be held.

“Whatever the court said in their decision would be very strongly taken into consideration in whether or not there would be a retrial,” a spokeswoman said at the time.

“Those convictions had to be quashed and that Mr Pora’s appeal be allowed,” he said.

Mr Krebs told the gathering for Mr Pora that they were delighted that the Privy Council did not automatically order a re-trial and said it was a 99.9 per cent result, to cheering from supporters. “He’s the man, he’s the innocent man. It’s your night Teina.”

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