Entrenched views on Bain case

The release of the Callinan report and the announcement that the Government would pay Bain nearly a million dollars to bring closure to legal actions is unlikely to change many if any minds about whodunnit.

It’s not unusual for pundits from the public to stick to what they believe regardless of evidence, but you would expect a journalist who has taken a close interest in the ongoing Bain cases and has written extensively about it would base his claims on known facts and law.

But Martin van Beyen appears to be determined to stick to his beliefs as much as anyone.

Stuff: Callinan report highlights issues in David Bain’s innocence appeal

Reporter MARTIN VAN BEYNEN, who covered David Bain’s retrial in 2009, believes the Callinan report highlights the longstanding flaws and inconsistencies in David’s story that he is innocent of the deaths of his family and that his father Robin was the killer. 

In just 144 pages, former Australian Supreme Court judge Ian Callinan lays bare David Bain’s case for compensation and finds it wanting.

For ardent followers of the case, Callinan’s report released on Tuesday doesn’t say much new. He has perused mountains of material and highlighted the flaws evident in Bain’s case as early as his trial in 1995 at which he was found guilty.

The report raises justifiable and inevitable doubts when looking at Bain’s account of what happened on 20 June, 1994 and the evidence the police investigation has revealed.

Callinan’s job was not to say whether Bain was innocent or guilty, although clearly on one reading of the report he appears to have doubts about Bain’s innocence.

Of course he has doubts, nothing has been conclusively proven one way or the other.

His job was to say whether he was satisfied Bain had proved whether he was innocent on the balance of probabilities. In other words, he had to be happy Bain was more probably innocent than guilty. The evidence provided by Bain’s defence failed to reach that threshhold, in Callinan’s view. 

The conclusion from that alleged failure is inescapable. If he can’t show he probably didn’t do it, he probably did it.

That is a ridiculous statement and a journalist who has covered criminal trials should know better.

Van Beyen has written in the past that he is convinced that David is guilty of the murder of his parents and siblings. He has weighed up the evidence and made his judgement, as many people have.

But stating that a failure to prove you didn’t do something means you ‘probably did it’ it nonsense.

I can’t prove that I have done nearly everything I have done in my life. And it’s even harder to prove things that I haven’t done.

Most of us wouldn’t be able to prove now what we were doing on 20 June 1994, let alone what we were not doing. Or for parts of just about any day of our lives.

From what I know about the Bain case there is evidence that seems to suggest both possible guilt and possible innocence of both David Bain and his father Robin. To me it is inconclusive either way.

The quantity of implicative evidence and the lack of conclusive evidence makes it easy for those convinced one way or the other to cherry pick bits that fit their beliefs.

The only person left who probably knows is David, and he still insists he is innocent. Perhaps he is right, or perhaps he is caught in a story of denial, or whatever.

But I am still not sure if it was David, or if it was Robin, or if it was both David and Robin, or if it was someone else. Neither is the Callinan report. Neither apparently is the Minister of Justice or the Government.

Quite often things remain unproven forever.