These are some further thoughts raised by today's decision to compensate Pora for 21 years of false imprisonment.
One swallow a summer does not make. Putting Teina Pora’s compensation aside the country is still faced with other cases from the era which are not settled. Also, this is a reminder that the Privy Council was able to see things from a distance in a way the NZ Courts did not. There is often comment about Clarke’s Labour Government stopping rights of appeal to the Privy Council from New Zealanders. Some would expect this apology to indicate that the right to go to the Privy Council should be reinstated, not by disposing of it the Supreme Court but rather by employing a successful model of the past where NZ Judges have also been on the Bench, a place from where distinct points of Law have found their way into Courts in NZ. Bluntly speaking the level of cases reversed by number that have managed to get to the PC is worryingly high. Today it seems not to have been mentioned that Pora, like all the others before appealing to the PC, apart from 1 or 2 perhaps, was unable to take his own case to the PC, others had do that without payment in many circumstances. These cases were taken by counsel and supporters with a ‘bloke next door’ attitude to help out. It would be fair to see that acknowledged, and for example a reflection that Pora may well have been in prison for the rest of his life for not admitting what the Government now say was a crime which he never committed.
I haven’t yet read the report, though wonder if when the compensation amount was decided i there was consideration that Pora underwent a second trial in which police put Pora and Rewa together. Rewa being the man arrested by police for the murder and rape of Susan Burdett after Pora was convicted. At that time the police did not stop their miscarriage of Justice against Pora they changed tact and found paid witnesses who would put Pora and Rewa together. With this settlement today goes the truth to the fact the police chose, perhaps coached, and paide witnesses to lie about Pora at his retrial.
I recall the published details that the search for Rewa was scaled down at the time of Pora’s arrest. This happened to coincide with police saying there was no longer a serial rapist allowing for the fact that unknown semen was found in the body of Susan Burdett. That semen was from Rewa. As many will recall woman came forward after Rewa’s trial for attacking Susan Burdett’s head with a base ball bat when he killed her, at least some of them, spoke of Rewa attacking them to the head. They complained that the scaling down of the hunt for a serial rapist resulted in the crimes committed by Rewa later against them. I expect there will be some emphasis placed on that as the result of the Government admitting what has been blindly obvious since Rewa was identified as the rapist of Susan Burdett, that the scaling down of the operation resulted in the crimes against those women which were only solved when the operation to catch Rewa as the serial rapist was resumed. It will be no surprise that they sue, if they have not done so already.