Binnie on Bain

Sunday tonight has an interview of retired judge Ian Binnie on the Bain murders. Very interesting – if you want to see it and have missed it then try TV +1 from 8:30.

Binnie wrote the report that said that in all probability David Bain was innocent and deserved compensation from the Crown. It created a political furore.

Binnie believes David is almost certainly innocent, and that his father set things up to make it look like David had done it in an act of revenge.

He cites in particular that David Bain had no history of mental instability while his father Robin was in a deteriorating state and was effectively estranged from his family.

One thing doesn’t make sense if David did it – why did he kill his mother and siblings, go on his paper run, and then return and shoot his father.

Binnie says that the police inquiry was inept, complicated somewhat by the burning down of the Bain house by the Police about two weeks after the murders.

There is still a number of aspects that don’t make sense and could implicate both David and Robin.

Binnie says that Judith Collins is the poster case why a politician should not get involved in legal cases – she was Minister of Justice when the Binnie report was released.

Bain not “innocent beyond reasonable doubt”

The debate will no doubt continue on the Bain murders after and Australian judge has found that David Bain’s claim for compensation didn’t meet the threshold of “innocent beyond reasonable doubt”.

This doesn’t surprise me as there are a number of contentious points about the murders and their investigation.

It was always going to be difficult to prove his innocence beyond reasonable doubt with evidence that is already known about, and with the number of investigations done into this case it is unlikely that any compelling new evidence would surface unless someone makes a credible confession.

NZ Herald reports: David Bain compensation case misses benchmark

David Bain has suffered another blow in his compensation claim for wrongful imprisonment following a confidential report by a senior judge found he did not meet the threshold of “innocent beyond reasonable doubt”.

The report has just been delivered and the Government has not yet begun any consideration of the latest development in the Bain case, which has divided the country for years.

Ian Callinan, QC, a retired judge from Australia, was asked to advise whether he is satisfied that Mr Bain has proven he is innocent of murder on the “balance of probabilities” and, if so, whether he is also satisfied Mr Bain has proven he is innocent “beyond reasonable doubt”.

His review has been delivered to Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The Herald understands that the judge did not find that Mr Bain is innocent beyond reasonable doubt — the benchmark for “extraordinary circumstances” required for compensation under previous guidelines.

Ms Adams will make the eventual recommendations to Cabinet after sounding out her colleagues.

Interestingly the Herald writes this as if it’s no deal for Bain already. It sounds unlikely but has not yet been determined.

If Mr Bain had been successful in his application, he could have received up to $2 million on estimates from other successful compensation claims.

Key points:

• Confidential report by Australian judge finds David Bain not “innocent beyond reasonable doubt”.
• The finding means Bain – who served almost 13 years of a minimum 16-year life sentence for murder before the Privy Council quashed his convictions and he was acquitted at a subsequent retrial – does not meet the “extraordinary circumstances” test for a compensation claim of wrongful imprisonment.
• The Government previously ignored a Canadian judge who found Bain innocent on “the balance of probabilities” and recommended compensation be paid.
• An estimated $1 million has been spent on considering Bain’s bid for compensation. Justice Minister Amy Adams now has to make a final recommendation to Cabinet.

Recap (Wikipedia Bain family murders):

  • The Bain family murders refers to the deaths of Robin and Margaret Bain, along with three of their children – Arawa, Laniet and Stephen – in Dunedin,New Zealand on 20 June 1994.
  • Their eldest son, David Cullen Bain was wrongfully convicted in May 1995 on five counts of murder.
  • He spent almost 13 years of a life sentence in prison before the Privy Council declared there had been a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’.
  • In May 2007, Bain’s legal team, guided by Karam, successfully appealed to the Privy Council in Britain. Finding there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice, the Privy Council quashed Bain’s convictions and ordered a retrial.
  • He was released on bail in May 2007, pending retrial.
  • The retrial ended with Bain’s acquittal on all charges in June 2009.
  • Because the case had such a high profile in New Zealand, Justice Minister Simon Power appointed Canadian jurist Ian Binnie in November 2011 to review the circumstances and advise the Government on whether compensation should be paid.
  • Binnie’s report was subsequently rejected by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, in controversial circumstances.
  • In March 2015, the Government picked another retired judge, Ian Callinan, a former justice of the High Court of Australia, to review once again Bain’s claims for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

The Callinan report is what has just been reported on, finding that David Bain was not “innocent beyond reasonable doubt”.

There is no doubt about the controversial murders and subsequent trials and appeals remaining controversial.


Justice Minister reignites de Bain debate

Minister of Justice has announced that Cabinet will start from scratch in investigating whether David Bain will be compensated for being imprisoned or not.

This will please all those who relish an excuse to debate the merits of the case.

Press release:


The Government has agreed to set aside all previous advice relating to David Bain’s compensation claim and conduct a fresh inquiry, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

In November 2011, former Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie was appointed to provide advice on the claim. He completed his report in August 2012.

After being made aware of concerns raised about Justice Binnie’s report and receiving advice from the Solicitor-General, the then Justice Minister Judith Collins decided to seek a peer review by former High Court judge Dr Robert Fisher. Dr Fisher found that Justice Binnie’s report contained a number of errors and was, therefore, unsafe to rely on.

“Given these events, it’s my view that Cabinet doesn’t have the information in front of it on which it could reasonably reach a decision,” says Ms Adams.

“For that reason, the advice of both Justice Binnie and Dr Fisher will be set aside and I will appoint a new inquirer to conduct a fresh inquiry into Mr Bain’s claim.”

Ms Adams says it’s important that the final decision on Mr Bain’s claim is durable and withstands the close scrutiny the case attracts.

“The New Zealand public rightly expects the Government to make a decision with the full set of facts and reliable advice in front of them. A fresh look will safeguard the integrity of the process and reassure the public that Cabinet will act on the best advice available,” says Ms Adams.

“Despite the further delay, conducting a fresh inquiry is the best approach in the circumstances and enables Mr Bain’s claim to be progressed on a proper and robust basis.”

Mr Bain’s claim for compensation falls outside existing Cabinet guidelines because when his conviction was quashed, a retrial was ordered. However, Cabinet has also reserved a residual discretion to consider claims outside the guidelines in “extraordinary circumstances … where this is in the interests of justice”. To satisfy the test for the payment of compensation that applies in his case, Mr Bain will need to prove his innocence on the balance of probabilities and be able to satisfy Cabinet that the circumstances are sufficiently extraordinary that it would be in the interests of justice for compensation to be paid.

“I have notified Mr Bain’s representatives of Cabinet’s decision and I understand they are comfortable with the process. All parties have agreed to draw a line under what’s happened and move forward in a constructive manner,” says Ms Adams.

Ms Adams will now seek advice on an appropriate inquirer and develop their terms of reference. There will be a further announcement in due course.

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