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.

Bain thumb marks and thumb prints

More information has been made available by the police in response to the 3rd Degree revelation of parallel lines on Robin Bain’s right thumb.

Parallel lines are visible in both a photo and in a thumb print taken afterwards.

robinbain3

There’s doubt whether the lines are residue marks or indentations.

robin-bain-elimination-print

There are also parallel indentations at the top left of the thumb print.

Residue marks would presumably not show up in a thumb print like this. This suggests that either…

  • the thumb was injured earlier on one or two occasions leaving with parallel lines that curiously but coincidentally a similar distance apart as the sides of the rifle magazine.

Or…

  • the thumb was indented due to pressure on the magazine – I can replicate this – and the indentations remained after Robin Bain died. They would gradually disappear on a live thumb.

I have no idea if the second of those options is feasible. It would need an expert opinion from a pathologist.

Whether then indentations would show in a thumb print would depend on the degree and nature of the indentations, and how much they hold their shape on a dead thumb. The photo doesn’t seem to show any broken skin, so the pressure when thumb printing applies no matter what caused the indentations.

 

The only thing that’s certain is this adds to the substantial intrigue surrounding this case.

Police response to Bain thumb marks

News release on the Bain thumb marks from the police:

Police response to latest Bain theory

June 27, 2013, 5:30 pm

The latest story advanced through the media by representatives of David Bain is an interesting theory but is not new evidence says Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess.

“It is an interesting idea when taken in isolation, but is no more than a theory when taken out of context of all the other evidence which has been presented to several courts.

“Marks on a photograph can always be open to several interpretations by experts, and the significance or relevance of these marks have not been tested in court.

“Examination of the original photograph does not give any definitive indication of what the marks could be. There are other possibilities, including that they are minor cuts.

“We know for example that Robin Bain was doing work to the roof and spouting of his Every Street home in the days leading up to the killings – any Kiwi handyman knows the sort of damage this can do to the hands. Post mortem examination of Robin Bain’s hands shows a number of minor abrasions and marks you would expect to find with someone familiar with manual work.

“Indeed, police have today conducted a preliminary examination of fingerprints taken from Robin Bain after his death. These prints show an absence of fingerprint markings in the same place on his right thumb as the dark marks appearing in the photograph. Our fingerprint experts advise that this is consistent with someone sustaining cuts or damage to the fingers prior to prints being taken, which would then affect the print image.

Had these been powder marks or smudges as claimed, we would expect to see a complete fingerprint image.

“I also reiterate the evidence put forward in court that the only identifiable fingerprints found on the firearm belonged to David and Stephen Bain.

“Police will continue to look at this issue to gain a better understanding of what this photograph may show.

“However, I am mindful that this theory has been put forward through a programme whose makers chose not to seek comment from police prior to broadcast, and who also refused to provide details about their story when approached by police on Tuesday.

“Had they done so then we would have pointed out that fingerprints had been presented in evidence and have always been available through the court to help them decide if their story stacked up.”

http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/35430.html