Time to close the David Bain file


When it was reported today that the prospects of David Bain, who was convicted for the murder of his family in Dunedin in 1994, of getting compensation had taken a blow from a report written by a retired Judge, I was surprised. I was not so much surprised at the report as I was that this case,  22 years after it started was still ongoing. I was surprised that it was still something that elected officials and the agencies under their supervision were still putting taxpayer funded resources into.

I was also frustrated because after two decades any evidence is not going to be at all fresh. Any new evidence to emerge would have to face a very strong credibility test in that it has had nearly 8,000 days to come to the surface and plenty of opportunity to be examined and tested in a Court of law. For anything to suddenly come up now would alone be enough to ask questions.

In 1994 Mr Bain was convicted for the deaths of his father, mother, and two siblings. He was sentenced to life in Prison. In 2007  the Privy Council found a substantial miscarriage of justice had happened and ordered a retrial. Mr Bain was released on bail pending trial. In 2009 he was found not guilty on all counts. But that was not the end of it. Controversy continued to rage because many thought that Mr Bain was the only one who could have been in the house at the time. He filed for compensation, and ended up in a legal battle that has bounced backwards and forwards between him and the Crown.

I personally believe he did do it. However the evidence is so old and tatty that it could never stand up in a Court of law, and yet at the same time no one else was ever suspected of committing the murders. And this neatly brings me to my next point.

Because the case has bounced around so much in the justice system, it would be interesting to see what its status is. Is it:

  • a “live” case that is still being investigated;
  • an open case that might not be currently under investigation, but recognised as having the potential for more progress;
  • a closed case with no chance of further progress – the witnesses are no longer around/evidence no longer fit for use/no new leads or likelihood of new leads;
  • or a solved case where the criminals have been caught and convicted

I believe that this might be a unique example of a case with an amber light. A green lighted case would be solved, and a closed case would be a red lighted one. This case would be a yellow light because although Mr Bain was not found guilty, there is enough questions around the case to suggest there is more than is being let on, but because the evidence is no longer fit for a Court of law, there is no prospect of trying him again. And so Mr Bain is left with a huge cautionary mark on his file.

At the end of the day, this is a case that I believe has run its natural course. All activity regarding the case hereafter is artificial in that it is just being kept alive by a few self-serving individuals with some kind of agenda. So, without further ado I believe the time is right to permanently close the file of the Bain murders. Nothing more in the natural course of justice can be done.

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