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.