On 20 June 1994 five members of the Bain family were murdered in their home. Only one, eldest son David. lived to tell the tale. From that day only one question was asked, was it David or his father Robin who was guilty of the murders. David’s version is that his father did the crime and then committed suicide. David was convicted of the murders and served 13 years in jail before the Privy Council in London ordered a retrial. From that retrial David was found not guilty. But did that also mean he was innocent?
After that it all came down to money. David Bain had been freed, the case against him unable to satisfy the jurors who sat on his second trial that he was guilty beyond reasonable doubt and now he has made a claim for compensation for 13 years false imprisonment. The trials, appeals and compensation claim have gone on unresolved for years. It must be an enormous drain on the energy of whole Bain family.
The government was obviously dragging its heels on this one. I doubt that a few million dollars would have held the government back from settling if they saw a grave injustice and sensed that the reasonably fair-minded average voter recognised that the man deserved compensation.
So we can only presume that while David Bain has been found not guilty, a significant proportion of caucus are far from convinced about his innocence and his moral right to dip into the public purse for a few million dollars which could be perceived as a rewarding him for slaying his family and directing blame to his innocent father. It has to be noted that not many of the opposition are making much of a fuss about it either.
The original jurors said he was guilty beyond all reasonable doubt with the evidence they were presented. A second set of jurors with what additional evidence they were allowed to hear and what evidence was also now denied to them fifteen years after the event, said ‘not proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. I suppose it is always a bit of a lottery with juries. All people are different with different sets of values and opinions.
But what everyone does agree on, if David Bain is innocent then Robin Bain is guilty. It has to be one or the other. And as far as compensation is concerned, the real question is: David Bain, innocent or not proven innocent beyond all reasonable doubt.
So the believers in David’s innocence also believe that Robin woke up in the morning, bladder full and unrelieved, waited for David to leave on his newspaper round, put on a green jersey usually worn by daughter Arawa, (fragments of which were found under Stephen’s fingernail), a pair of socks and track pants, then put on David’s opera gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints when he collected the rifle and ammunition from David’s room; then Robin supposedly shot his wife and three of his four children during which process he, despite his age and frailty, overcame his teenage son Stephen who had woken and was struggling for his life. He supposedly managed to strangle Stephen with his own T-shirt and then shoot him in the head. Then it is claimed, Robin discarded the bloody gloves in Stephen’s room, and dropped one of David’s glasses lens in the same room, took off the green jersey and other blood stained clothes and left them all in the laundry.
Robin then, as David’s defence would argue, went back to the caravan, put on clean socks and shoes, an old pair of light-blue track suit pants, a T-shirt, an old business shirt, a brown woollen jersey, a thick hoodie and a green knitted beanie and went back into the house. On one of the two visits to the house he also collected the newspaper from the letterbox. There he supposedly sat down at the computer where he implied responsibility for the slaughter, without giving any reason for it, writing only that he considered David the only one who deserved to live. Writing such a confession would make the decision to wear opera gloves and to change from the bloody clothes somewhat pointless.
Then, in what can be best described as an exceptionally awkward action, propped his temple against the rifle, somehow reached down to the trigger and managed to push it while keeping the rifle straight enough with his other hand for a single lethal suicide shot; all this without leaving any fingerprints on the rifle despite gripping the barrel to hold it straight. Expert pathology witness, Alex Dempster, described this as an extremely unusual angle.
David’s was the only fingerprint on the rifle. And in spite of the struggle with Stephen during the slaughter, Robin’s body showed no sign of scratching or bruising while David did retain an unexplained bruise on his head and scratching on his chest. No one explored the possibility that it was David who considered he was the only one in the family who deserved to live.
David claimed he arrived home from his paper round, saw clothes in the laundry, including the green jersey, track pants and socks worn by the killer, then sorted colours from whites without noticing all the blood on them, put them all in the washing machine and turned it on. After that he claims he came across the slaughter of two of his family, waited 20 minutes before phoning 111 saying ‘they are all dead’. It was only months later, after evidence of him being in other rooms was presented, did he remember that he had actually gone into all rooms and had seen all bodies not just two. A supporter would say he was in shock and did not know what he was doing, a non-supporter would say he was removing evidence of his involvement in the slaughter from his clothing and working to a script designed to exonerate himself.
Robin is not here to defend himself and, as so often the case, history is being written by the survivor. How David has built up a team of passionate believers I cannot imagine, but I have not met him and listened as he told his story. Mind you, nor did the second jury as David decided not to give evidence in his own defence, which is unusual for an innocent man who has successfully convinced Joe Karam and others of his innocence.
Does David himself actually believe he is innocent? I have no idea, the mind is a mysterious thing. The choice of words of David’s lawyer, Michael Guest, at his first trial were: “David does not remember killing his family” which were scarcely comforting. David’s second defence team, with what evidence was available and admissible, were able to convince the jurors in the second trial, if not of his innocence, then of the insufficiency of the presented evidence to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt and by extension that there was reasonable evidence that Robin Bain was guilty.
Those two jurors who congratulated David after giving him his ‘not guilty’ verdict, and then went to his celebration party that night did raise some serious concerns about whether that jury was entirely impartial. This was their one and only moment in the national spotlight; perhaps it deserved a spectacular rather than status quo decision to extend their moment as long as possible. Perhaps they were twelve stupid and/ or gullible people. Perhaps they thought David had suffered enough?
But if there is a significant number of people who believe that Robin was the killer beyond any reasonable doubt they should simply do as Joe Karam has done; Karam says he believes in David’s innocence and Robin’s guilt and has put his time, energy and money up to back his belief. It was time for his other supporters to do the same. If they believed, they should just put their hand in their pocket and vote with their wallet.
David’s supporters did not have the right to demand that those who equally believe in Robin Bain’s innocence should be forced to pay compensation to David through a taxation charge; especially since they then believe that David murdered his family and set out to destroy his father’s name. It is not as if the general public has not heard all the arguments from both sides over fifteen years.
If just a quarter of our population believe David is innocent, and then they each sacrificed two cups of coffee in support of their convictions, David would have had sufficient compensation to see him enjoy the lifestyle of a wealthy man, which is what his supporters want. They did not. No crowd funding, just continued legal pursuit for the taxpayers to make David Bain a multi millionaire because a second jury disagreed with the first.
Had they done so those who believe in Robin’s innocence have not had their belief compromised by being taxed for what they consider to be David’s reward for fooling the second jury.
Debate over, problem solved, win/win.
Footnote: 2017. Having “cleared his name”, he has now changed it. Having been given just under a million dollars in ‘compensation’ he is off to Australia to spend it there. Whatever that all says about the person formerly known as David Bain.
Footnote 2020. A television series “Black Hands” brings a human reality to this shocking murder spree, without, I suspect, changing anyone’s mind. The man formally known as David Bain has children, the sole continuation of this family’s gene pool.