Martin van Beynen unconvincing on Bain evidence

Christchurch Press writer Martin van Beynen has responded to the new discussions about the Bain case, dismissing the thumb marks:

The latest revelation is certainly not the clinching piece of evidence the programme claims. It’s not even particularly convincing.

Van Beynen is a well known believer in David Bain’s guilt.

Press senior writer Martin van Beynen has been writing about the Bain case since 1997 and covered David Bain’s second trial in Christchurch in 2009.

He has made no secret of his view that David Bain killed his family in June 1994, and today gives his opinion on the TV3-aired evidence which Bain’s supporters say removes all doubt about Bain’s innocence. 

On the thumb marks he says:

For a start the marks don’t even look much like the sort of powder deposits seen on the collection of Bain camp experts who participated in the tests by loading bullets into the rifle’s clip.

If the marks on Robin’s thumb are from the magazine they would have been deposited close to the moment Robin shot himself. So you would expect an imprint very similar to that left on the thumbs of the Bain experts. It’s possible some of the residue was removed as Robin placed and held the rifle to shoot himself in a very odd way but, amplified, the lines on Robin’s thumb look defined and crisp.

Unlike the marks left on the Bain camp’s thumbs, the marks on Robin’s digit are not parallel or soft in outline. They are also thinner and from what I can see, not even the same colour as the test marks.

If Robin was loading a number of bullets, as he must have according to the defence scenario, how come only one set of marks was left on his thumb? Did his thumb follow the same track every time?

This point has been brought up elsewhere.

It’s certainly possible to get multiple soot lines, this has happened to me when I’ve tried it.

But – when I’ve tested loading my magazine I usually push the bullets in barely touching the magazine with my thumb. Then when I’ve finished I press down on the top bullet to ensure it is in correctly and springs freely. This levels indentations on my thumb in a similar position to the thumb marks.

And just on Firstline an English arms expert has also suggested this. He said he has seen it often. In some cases if a magazine has sharp enough edges it can cut the thumb.

And the lines being out of parallel can be due to deformation of the thumb when you press down. When the skin and flesh go back into their normal shape the lines don’t always look parallel.

Van Beynen then goes over much covered ground. I question tTwo points he makes.

The new scenario propounded by the TV3 programme would have Robin shooting his family and then waiting to just before David was due to come home from his paper-run to turn on the computer (so he could write his last message) and, before shooting himself…

That sounds like a feasible scenario (except for the magazine placement) – Robin will have known he would have so much time while David was away on his paper round. Enough time to do what some allege.

The other scenario – David killing his mother, sisters and brother, going on his paper round, then hiding waiting for his father to come into the house, seems to me to be implausible. There was no guarantee that Robin would come into the house at any time, let alone a convenient time to fit in with this plan.

…placing the spare magazine on its narrowest side on the carpet. Then when he falls to the carpeted floor after the fatal shot, he conveniently lands with his hand right next to the magazine. It seems much more likely the killer placed the magazine on its edge right next to Robin’s hand to make it look like a suicide.

Why would anyone think of placing the magazine on the unlikeliest of positions? Why would it make it look like a suicide? This just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I think there is still more to be investigated regarding the thumb marks. There will no doubt be more claims and counter claims.

But I don’t think van Beynen adds any more to the argument. He is unconvincing in his criticism of then new evidence, and he mostly just rehashes old unresolved arguments.

And it seems odd for a journalist to have so strongly taken one side of a still very contentious and disputed case.

Leave a comment


  1. Andrew

     /  28th June 2013

    when you look at all the evidence in a big picture, i can’t see how you could come to the conclusion that David didn’t do it (just my opinion). The events you would have to believe to be true in order for Robin to have done it are, quite frankly inconceivable to me.

    A by no means complete scenario:

    Robin Bain gets up, puts on his sons clothes, his gloves, uses the spare key to unlock the trigger lock, that according to David, didn’t know existed. Left the trigger lock on the floor and put the key back in the jar and placing the hackey sack back on top. Then shoots 4 of his family, including a massive struggle with Stephen, where a frail old man managed to overpower a teenager. The takes off his sons clothes, puts the bloodied clothes in the washing machine basket. Changes his clothes, puts his shoes on, goes into the front room, logs on the family computer, types a note absolving the son, who he has just gone out of his way to implicate in the murder. All with a full bladder.

    Then shoots himself in the most awkward way possible, while holding onto a spare magazine that just happens to land on its thinnest edge only a couple of centimeters away. and leaving no fingerprints on the rifle, or the magazine he has just loaded, even though he is now not wearing David’s gloves.

    David, comes home from his paper round, doesn’t notice anything strange, goes straight to the laundry, puts the bloodied clothes in the washing machine while leaving a bloody partial handprint on the washing machine and a smear of blood on the washing power box.

    Robins body was found with no marks, no blood on either him or his clothes, except his own. No DNA at all from the struggle with Stephen. David, who is found with his siblings blood on him, unexplained scratches on his chest and bruises on his head and grazes on his knee, can’t recall how he got them, but told police that he was sure he didn’t have them on his paper round, cant remember how he knows his family his dead, or why he waited 20 mins to ring an ambulance.

    Sorry, I just cant see how Robin could have done it.

  2. Gaynor Brown

     /  28th June 2013

    I have to agree with Andrew..common sense ditates!

  3. Brown

     /  28th June 2013

    Agree. Its possible dad did it (anything is possible) but it but I think David did the dirty deeds. In any case there are far too many obstacles to innocence to get some compo.

  4. Fred

     /  29th June 2013

    Only fingerprints on the rifle were David and his brother Stephen – slam dunk.

  5. I’m sorry. Andrew but I don’t get how your suggested chain of events sounds so outrageous and doesn’t implicate Robin Bain.
    Robin Bain was a pig by all accounts. Most likely he was taking his sons clothes because he didn’t have any of his own.
    He wasn’t a frail old man he was fifty something.
    Bringing up the full bladder thing has no bearing on anything. Bringing the this to bear the the argument that David Bain is the killer is ludicrous. You can hold 800ml and be completely engrossed and still not have to go.
    Normal people wake up take a piss and think about getting dressed in their own, clean clothes, psychotics do not.

  6. Looks like the David support crew are desperate to get some form of compensation and does nobody else find it strange that Karam has been sitting on this so-called fresh evidence since February. In view of the fact that $3,333,495.45 has been coughed up in legal aid I would be of the opinion that the compensation claim should be thrown in the rubbish bin alongside this latest clutching at straws nonsense. Give David Bain nothing and take him nowhere and hope that Karma kicks in real soon!!


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