Bain family murders

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"David Bain" redirects here. For other uses, see David Bain (disambiguation).

The Bain family murders refers to the deaths by gunshot of Robin and Margaret Bain and three of their four children – Arawa, Laniet and Stephen – in Dunedin, New Zealand on 20 June 1994. The only suspects were David Cullen Bain, the oldest son and only survivor, and Robin Bain, the father. On the day of the killings, police speculated it may have been a case of murder/suicide committed by the father[1] but four days later, David Bain aged 22, was charged with five counts of murder. In May 1995 he was convicted on each of the five counts and sentenced to life in prison.

Bain's case was taken up by businessman and former All Black, Joe Karam. In 2007, Bain's legal team, guided by Karam, successfully appealed to the Privy Council which declared there had been a 'substantial miscarriage of justice'.[2] He was released on bail in May 2007. The retrial in June 2009 ended with his acquittal on all charges.[3]

Speculation about the case continued long after Bain was acquitted, including whether or not he should receive compensation for the years he spent in prison. 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 determined the Dunedin police made 'egregious errors' and that the 'extraordinary circumstances' in the case justified the payment of compensation. However, his report was rejected by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins, in controversial circumstances.[4][5]

In March 2015, the Government appointed another retired judge, Ian Callinan, a former justice of the High Court of Australia, to conduct a second review of Bain's compensation claim.[6] On 26 January 2016, more than six years after Bain was found not guilty, Callinan's report was finally delivered to the Minister of Justice Amy Adams.[7] His conclusion, that David Bain was not innocent on the balance of probabilities[8] was not released until August 2016. Justice Minister Amy Adams said no compensation would be paid but that David would be given $925,000 if he agreed to stop all further legal action.[9]

Family background[edit]

Robin Irving Bain and Margaret Arawa Cullen were married in 1969 in Dunedin, New Zealand. They had four children, David (born 1972), Arawa (1974), Laniet (1976) and Stephen (1980).[10] In 1974, they moved to Papua New Guinea, where Robin worked as a missionary teacher. The family returned to New Zealand in 1988.[11] Three years after his return, Robin became the principal of Taieri Beach School,[n 1] a two-teacher school about 50 kilometres down the coast from Dunedin.[2]

In June 1994, the family lived at 65 Every Street, Andersons Bay, Dunedin.[2]:4 The house was old and 'semi-derelict'.[2] At this time Robin and Margaret were estranged, with Robin sleeping in the back of his van at Taieri or in the schoolhouse three nights a week.[2]:3 He returned to the family home at weekends but slept in a caravan in the back garden.[2]:3David was studying music and classics at Otago University and had a part-time job delivering morning newspapers. Arawa was attending a teachers' training college and Stephen was at high school.[2] Laniet had a part-time job in Dunedin and lived away from home but had returned to the family residence on the Sunday evening of 19 June to attend a family meeting.[13]

The deaths[edit]

Memorial to the Cullen Bain family in Mosgiel

On the morning of 20 June 1994, David Bain called 111 at 7:09 am in a distressed state and told the operator: "They're all dead, they're all dead."[14] When the police arrived they found five members of the Bain family had been shot to death – Robin Bain (58), his wife Margaret (50), their daughters Arawa (19) and Laniet (18), and their son Stephen (14). There was evidence of a violent struggle involving Stephen who was partly strangled as well as shot.[2]:6

On the day of the killings, Police and neighbours speculated it may have been a murder/suicide.[1] Four days later, David Bain aged 22, was charged with five counts of murder. In May 1995 he was convicted on all five and sentenced to life in prison.

Two weeks after the murders, after the police had completed their inquiries and handed the house over to the family trustees on 30 June, the house was burnt down by agreement between the Bain family and the New Zealand Fire Service, and with David Bain's consent.[15]

First trial 1995[edit]

The three week trial took place at the Dunedin High Court in May 1995 and was presided over by the late Justice Neil Williamson.[16]

The Crown's case[edit]

The Crown put forward that David got up at about 5 a.m., took his rifle from his wardrobe and unlocked the trigger lock with a spare key that he kept in a jar on his desk. It was alleged that he then shot to death in an unknown order his mother, two sisters and brother. The Crown said that during the struggle with his brother, a lens from the glasses he was wearing fell out on the floor in Stephen's room. The prosecution said David then washed his blood stained clothes, changed into clean clothes and went on his morning paper run.[2] They said that after returning, he went into the lounge, switched on the computer at around 6.44 a.m, and typed in the message "sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay" in order to give the appearance that his father had committed the killings and committed suicide.[12]:50 According to the Crown, when his father came in from his caravan to pray, David shot him in the head from close range as he knelt in the lounge and then re-arranged the scene to make it look like a suicide. David called 111 at 7.09 a.m. to report the deaths, and the prosecution argued that his apparent agitation on the phone was just a pretence.[2]

Defence case[edit]

The defence submitted that Robin Bain killed the other family members while David was out on his paper round, then switched on the computer, typed in the message and shot himself. The Crown said there was no evidence that Robin committed suicide but the police armourer testified that the rifle used for the killings was 20 cm longer than it actually was[17]:262 and Crown pathologist, Dr Alex Dempster, never measured the lengths of Robin’s arms.[17]:263 However, defence lawyer Michael Guest was able to demonstrate his suicide theory by placing the butt of the rifle on a chair, placing the muzzle against his temple, then reaching down and squeezing the trigger. Dr Dempster said he hadn't considered that possibility but could not discount it.[12]

David's testimony[edit]

David testified that he got up at his usual time, dressed, put on his running shoes, took his newspaper bag and went out on his paper run with his dog. He said he arrived back about 6.42 a.m., entered by the front door and went to his room without turning on the lights. He said he took off the newspaper bag and his shoes and then went downstairs to the bathroom where he washed his hands which were covered with black newsprint. He said he put some clothes in the washing machine, including the sweatshirt he had been wearing that morning, and turned it on. He said it wasn't until he went back upstairs to his room and turned on the light that he noticed bullets and the trigger lock on the floor. He went to his mother's room, finding her dead with her eyes open, then visited the other rooms. He said he heard his sister Laniet gurgling and found his father dead in the lounge. At 7.09 a.m., he rang the emergency number in great distress.[2]:7


In his closing address the Crown prosecutor suggested that what David Bain wanted was to inherit.[12] Asserting that David Bain was the murderer, the Crown prosecutor alleged that David was a "disturbed young man" but said his "reasons, his motivation are irrelevant". In his summing up, Justice Williamson told the jury "... that these events were so bizarre and abnormal that it was impossible for the human mind to conceive of any logical or reasonable explanation".[18] In a subsequent inquiry, the Police agreed that a 'conventional motive' could not be found.[19]

At the time of this trial, little in the way of motive was presented for Robin Bain to have committed the killings either. However, three days after the killings, Dean Cottle, a friend of David’s sister Laniet, provided a formal statement to police which was potentially relevant to Robin Bain’s state of mind. He said she told him her father had been having an incestuous relationship with her that began when the family lived in Papua New Guinea – and that this was still going on. The court was told Laniet was planning to "blow the whistle" on her father the weekend before she and her family were killed.[20][21] But Cottle failed to show up at court for the trial. When he did turn up a few days later, apparently "he was in a state of some confusion". Justice Williamson said Cottle's evidence would not be reasonably safe or reliable and that he did not believe him and ruled against its admission.[22] The Police Complaints Authority stated that Cottle had little credibility and that Laniet's move from Russell Street to live with her father at Taieri seemed inconsistent with the incest claims.[23]

So whether or not Laniet had made allegations of incest against her father was not canvassed before the jury at the first trial.[24] Unable to use Cottle's testimony or question him about it, the defense simply submitted that "Robin was a proud school teacher who had been rejected by his family and had snapped after months of pressure."[25]


After a three-week trial, David Bain was convicted by the jury on five counts of murder and sentenced by Justice Williamson to life imprisonment with a 16-year non-parole period.[26]

In an affidavit written after the trial, Cottle said that three days before the murders, Laniet told him she was going home that weekend to tell the rest of the family what had been going on and "put a stop to everything, she was sick of everyone getting up her".[2]:10

Support of Joe Karam[edit]

Joe Karam subsequently spearheaded a lengthy campaign to have Bain's convictions overturned. He felt something was wrong with the case and began to study the evidence presented at the original trial.[27] He went to visit Bain in prison in Christchurch and subsequently visited him over 200 times.[27] From 1997 to 2012, Karam wrote four books about Bain's case and helped him in his numerous appeals. Karam was subsequently described in the media as a 'freedom fighter'. Without his support, it is unlikely there would ever have been a retrial.[28]

Over the years, details of the evidence presented at the original trial and subsequent hearings were relitigated at social gatherings and on the internet.[29] The case remained controversial, including after Bain was found not guilty, and often produced quite 'visceral' responses.[30] Karam's motives were questioned and he was frequently criticised and attacked on social media for his support of Bain. In response, he successfully sued or took defamation cases against North & South magazine, the New Zealand Herald, and journalist Rosemary McLeod.[28] In 2014, he was awarded $535,000 following a suit against Kent Parker and Victor Perkiss for over 50 defamatory posts the pair made on Facebook and Counterspin.[31] However Kent Parker said he couldn't pay and applied for bankruptcy[32] while Purkiss avoided payment by taking off to England.[33]


Court of Appeal 1995[edit]

The first application was made to the New Zealand Court of Appeal in 1995. The principal matter to be addressed was whether the trial judge had erred in refusing to admit the evidence of Cottle. The Court of Appeal refused to hear the appeal on the grounds that "the Crown case appeared very strong and the defence theory not at all plausible."[2]:10, 20

Second Court of Appeal 1998[edit]

The case garnered wide publicity, and expressions of public concern led to a joint review by New Zealand Police and the Police Complaints Authority. In June 1998, Bain petitioned the Governor-General for a pardon. The Governor-General passed the application on to the Ministry of Justice, which conducted an investigation into new information presented by the defence team. In 2000, Justice Minister Phil Goff said the investigation had shown that "a number of errors" may have occurred in the Crown's case against Bain.[34] To assist with the Governor-General's review, six specific questions concerning the case were referred to the Court of Appeal.[2]:22

The Court eventually concluded: "We are of the opinion that there is a possibility that there has been a miscarriage of justice that would warrant the question of David Bain's convictions being referred to this Court under s406(a) of the Crimes Act 1961." This meant the case was then referred back to the Court of Appeal for a full hearing (the third).[2]:27

Third Court of Appeal 2003[edit]

The case was referred to the Court of Appeal a third time in 2003. This time, the court had before it all the material which had been presented to the second Court of Appeal, the benefit of that court's answers to the Governor-General's six questions, plus some additional affidavits. The third Court heard submissions over five days between 1 and 9 September, but did not allow oral evidence or cross-examination.

At the end of the day, the court was not persuaded by the additional submissions that there had been a miscarriage of justice and the appeal was dismissed on 15 December 2003.[2]:30–33

Privy Council 2007[edit]

In March 2007, Bain's legal team, including Karam, travelled to London to lay out nine arguments before the Privy Council as to why his convictions should be quashed.[2]:40–97 Two of the nine points concerned Robin Bain's mental state and possible motive. The Council noted: "If the jury found Robin to be already in a state of deep depression and now, a school principal and ex-missionary, facing the public revelation of very serious sex offences against his teenage daughter they might reasonably conclude that this could have driven him to commit these acts."[35]

The other seven points concerned questions about particular pieces of evidence including the time the computer was switched on and the time of David's return,[2] the ownership of a pair of glasses found at the scene, the size of bloody sock prints, bloody fingerprints on the rifle, and whether David heard Laniet make a gurgling noise. The Privy Council found that many of these issues were highly contentious and the jury could well have been influenced by them.[35]

The Privy Council concluded that: "In the opinion of the board, the fresh evidence adduced in relation to the nine points ... taken together, compels the conclusion that a substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred in this case."[2] The Privy Council quashed Bain's convictions and ordered a retrial, but noted that he should remain in custody in the mean time.[2]:119

High Court bail hearing 2007[edit]

On 15 May 2007, Bain was granted bail by the High Court in Christchurch in a hearing that lasted only one hour. Justice Fogarty said that under New Zealand law, there was no reason for continued detention and he was bailed to the home of his longtime supporter, Karam. Altogether, he served almost 13 years of a life sentence with a minimum 16-year non-parole period.[citation needed]

Retrial 2009[edit]

The retrial took place at the Christchurch High Court,[36] with the jury sworn in on 6 March 2009, and David Bain pleaded not guilty to the five murder charges. The trial lasted about three months, but the jury took less than a day to find Bain not guilty on all five charges.[3][37] Each verdict of not guilty for the five murders was greeted with cheers and applause by some of those in court.[38] Outside court, an emotional Bain thanked his supporters, particularly Karam. "Without Joe and his solid strength ... I wouldn't have made it through this far," Bain said.[39] Karam said the trial would go down as the "criminal trial of New Zealand’s history".[39] Some commentators questioned the behaviour of jurors who hugged Bain and attended a "victory party" after the verdict. Dr Chris Gallavin, a senior law lecturer at Canterbury University, said, "While this is unusual behaviour, the whole case is an unusual case."[40]

Coroner's inquests[edit]

In 1994, the Dunedin Coroner decided no inquest was needed, as he was satisfied that the evidence shown in court had established the cause of the deaths.[41] After the retrial, New Zealand's Chief Coroner consulted with the local coroner and others to decide whether to conduct inquests into the deaths, as the verdict implied the death certificates may not be accurate. However no inquests were held; a Law Society spokesman pointed out that even if the coroner's findings disagreed with the retrial verdict, this could not lead to any further legal action against David Bain.[42]


In March 2010, Bain lodged an application for compensation for wrongful imprisonment.[43] His case falls outside Cabinet rules on compensation and so the Government is not obliged to pay him anything, but may do so if he is able to establish his innocence on "the balance of probabilities" and is also considered to be the "victim of exceptional circumstances".[44]

Response by Simon Power[edit]

Because of the high-profile and contentious nature of the case in New Zealand, in 2011 then Justice Minister Simon Power chose an overseas judge – retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie – to examine Bain's application for compensation.[4]

Justice Binnie's report 2012[edit]

In addition to examining the legal issues, Justice Binnie interviewed Bain to ascertain the impact of spending almost 13 years in prison and the endless negative publicity about him.

In regard to his time in prison, Bain told Binnie that soon after he was incarcerated, he was assaulted by another prisoner who broke two of his teeth and left him with cuts and bruises. "When I was first imprisoned I was put on suicide watch which involved the prison officers turning on my cell light to check on me every 15 minutes [which] effectively became a means of torture. I suffered constant migraines, depression and loneliness." In regard to the publicity, he said he found it just as hard to adjust to being out of prison: "Everywhere I go, and in everything I do, I am always recognised and either comments are made or people question me... It is not a comfortable thing being known for something as traumatic as the events I have suffered through".[45]

Bain also expressed concern at the loss of a possible career as a singer. At the time of his arrest, he had been studying for a degree in music and drama. His music teacher told him he had a "wonderful voice" and had the potential to become an international opera singer.[45]

After a year long investigation, Binnie concluded, in a 180-page report,[17] that Dunedin's police had made "egregious errors" and that there were "numerous instances" of investigative ineptitude that led directly to the wrongful conviction. In particular, he described the failure of the Crown to preserve evidence in the murder investigation, by burning down the house, as one of the "extraordinary circumstances" that the Cabinet should take into account.[46] Another was the failure of the police to test Robin’s hands and clothing for residue of firearms discharge.[17]:157 Police also failed to investigate information that Laniet had accused her father of incest and planned to expose him to the rest of the family and failed to follow up on evidence of Robin Bain’s mental instability despite the Detectives Manual specifically instructing police to pursue the issue of motive. They also misled the first jury on where the lens of David's spectacles was found and knowingly gave the jury the wrong time for the switching on of the family computer. Altogether, Binnie identified 12 different mistakes or failings by the police.[47]

Binnie decided the evidence established that "the miscarriage of justice was the direct result of a police investigation characterised by carelessness and lack of due diligence"[48] and wrote: "in what is essentially a circumstantial case, it is noteworthy that the Police chose to exclude the one suspect (Robin) who was alleged to have a plausible if challenged motive, and pursue for 15 years the other suspect (David) for whom they had found no motive whatsoever."[17]:173 He concluded that "on the balance of probabilities" Bain was innocent of the murders in 1994 and should be paid compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.[4]

Response by Judith Collins[edit]

The finished report was delivered to the New Zealand government in September, 2012.[49] By that stage, Simon Power had retired from Parliament and Judith Collins was the new Justice Minister. Collins sought feedback on the report from the police and the Solicitor-General and ordered a peer review of the report by a former High Court judge, Robert Fisher. Collins said one of the reasons she wanted further advice was because she received an email from Michael Guest, Bain's lawyer from his first trial who in 2001 had been disbarred for lying.[50] Guest said in the email that Bain had made a 'damning admission' to both himself and his co-Counsel at the time of the first trial 17 years earlier that he had been wearing his mother's glasses the day before the murders, and that therefore Bain could not be innocent. Joe Karam said Guest's claim was contradicted by a letter the lawyer sent to Mr Karam after the first trial, in which Guest said he was "absolutely certain David is innocent or had suffered a miscarriage of justice".[51] The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal said Guest "had a tendency toward overstatements that sometimes departed from reality and truth."[52]

In the process of getting further advice, Ms Collins refused to allow Bain's legal team to see a copy of Binnie's report. She also tried to prevent the report from being made public. Emails released to the media show her staff wanted Binnie to be kept "in the tent for as long as possible". Collins' press secretary sent her an email expressing her concern that the Canadian judge was going to go "completely feral" due to his concerns over the process.[53]

Later that month, Collins called Binnie back to New Zealand for a 15-minute meeting. Binnie subsequently reported: "It was very clear at that time that the minister was furious with the conclusion I had reached. So I left Wellington knowing my report was dead on arrival... It's not uncommon among clients to keep going through lawyers until they find someone who agrees with them."[54]

Collins said that Justice Binnie went far beyond his mandate and that Fisher had identified an "extensive" list of errors in his report.[55]

Justice Fisher's report[edit]

In his report to Collins, Fisher had concluded that Binnie's report was "well organised, comprehensive and thorough. It is a valuable collation of the evidence currently available in relation to this claim". He then said that Binnie had made "fundamental errors of principle" including the point that Binnie regarded Bain's acquittal as a relevant factor in proving his innocence.[56]

Justice Fisher also listed a number of factual errors in Binnie's report such as his repeated description of the 10 shot magazine as empty when it had three live rounds in it and that the police authorised the burning down of the house when the decision was made by the Bain family.[57] Fisher also concluded that Binnie "went beyond his mandate" in that he "did not have authority to express any conclusion on the question whether there were extraordinary circumstances such that compensation would be in the interests of justice." He said a new report would need to be done with the principles applied to the evidence correctly. However, Fisher also acknowledged: "That is far from saying that a fresh assessment would produce any different outcome. It is perfectly possible that it would vindicate (Justice) Binnie's conclusions."[58]

Based on Fisher's criticisms, Collins responded by saying another report into Bain's compensation claim would have to be commissioned.[59] Binnie took exception to Collins' criticisms of his report, arguing that he had weighed up the totality of the evidence both for and against Bain. He said the Government was clearly 'shopping around' for a report that would allow it to dodge paying compensation,[54] a view which was endorsed by one academic[60] but rejected by others.[61]

A media spat developed between Collins and Binnie, who pointed out, in an email subsequently released to the media by Collins,[62] that Fisher had not read the 10,000 pages of background files[63] and said his review was the product of someone with "little familiarity" with the case.[48] Eventually Collins released the report written by Binnie, the review by Fisher, and Binnie's email response to Fisher's review.[56]

The Prime Minister said he believed Fisher ripped Binnie's report apart.[54]

Judicial review of the Minister's actions[edit]

In January 2013, Bain filed a claim in the High Court seeking a review of Collins' actions. The claim alleged Collins breached natural justice and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, "acted in bad faith, abused her power, and acted in a biased, unreasonable and predetermined manner".[64] This delayed any decision on compensation for at least another year.

Response by Amy Adams[edit]

In August 2014, Collins resigned in the midst of a furore over Dirty Politics. Four months later, Bain's legal team had confidential discussions with the new Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, about compensation. Bain's legal team included Michael Reed QC and Joe Karam and the discussion was chaired by Justice John Faire. In January 2015, Adams announced that judicial review proceedings against Collins had been discontinued and that Cabinet would resume consideration of Bain's bid for compensation.[65]

Less than a month later, Cabinet endorsed Collins' perspective that Justice Binnie's report was flawed. Adams announced that both Binnie's report and Robert Fisher's report would be 'put aside', stating that Cabinet still "did not have enough information to reach a decision on a potential payout for Mr Bain". She said another report would have to be commissioned – at an additional cost of $400,000.[66] In March 2015, she announced the appointment of retired Australian judge Hon Ian Callinan AC QC to conduct the new inquiry into Bain's compensation claim.[6]

Justice Callinan's report 2016[edit]

Justice Callinan presented a draft report to New Zealand's Justice Minister, Amy Adams, in September 2015.[67][68] On 26 January 2016, Callinan's final report was delivered to Adams.[7] On 18 February 2016, Adams issued a press release confirming she had received Mr Callinan's report and that parties would have the opportunity to provide her with any further information they would like her to consider. She said she would not begin consideration of Mr Callinan's report until she had that information.[69]

On 2 August 2016, Justice Minister Amy Adams formally announced that Justice Callinan had found that David Bain was not innocent "on the balance of probabilities", and as a result the government would not be making an apology or compensating Bain for wrongfully spending 13 years in prison. Adams said that Bain's legal team had indicated that they would have mounted a legal challenge against Callinan's report and that while the Crown was confident in the strength of its position no one benefited from the matter continuing to drag on. The Crown therefore agreed to make an ex gratia payment of $925,000 in recognition of the time and expenses incurred by Bain during the compensation process and the desirability of avoiding further litigation.[70]

In his report Judge Callinan wrote that none of David Bain's contentions with respect to the glasses address the absence of any satisfactory explanation of the presence of the distorted frame with one lens in it that was found in his room. He also found that the noticeable bruising on the side of David Bain's head was "quite unexplained" (it was explained, but not to Callinan's satisfaction) and that David had injuries consistent with a fight. David's fingerprints on the rifle looked to have been made by fingers covered in blood and Judge Callinan said he was unable to accept Bain supporter Joe Karam's submission that the fingerprints were not in blood nor was he persuaded that the blood was rabbit or possum blood. Callinan also said that it was an incontestable fact that David Bain's clothing had the blood of one or more of his siblings on it. He also made the point that in both tone and substance Bain's evidence at the 1995 trial differed from the various statements he made to police officers.The former Australian judge was not nearly as scathing of the Police investigation as Justice Binnie was.He said that tests,if available, might just as likely be inculpatory of Bain as exculpatory. Callinan said he found the incest evidence unreliable and described Laniet as a fabulist. [71]

Public opinion[edit]

At least five opinion polls on whether Bain should receive compensation have been conducted since he was found not guilty at the second trial. The polls were conducted in 2012,[72] 2013 (two)[73][74] and 2015 [two].[75] In all five polls, between 57% and 74% of those polled said they thought Bain should receive compensation for the almost 13 years he spent in prison.

Following the Government's decision not to pay compensation, a campaign website appeared linked to a Givealittle account, allowing the public to make contributions to Bain.[76]

Cost to taxpayer[edit]

Bain's defence has cost the taxpayer more than $3 million in legal aid[77] including over $330,000 to Joe Karam for his work relating to the retrial.[78] Crown prosecution costs were at least $1.2 million.[79] On top of this, the Government spent nearly $100,000 a year keeping him in prison for 13 years[80] – adding another $1.3 million. Justice Binnie was paid $373,000 to investigate the question of Bain's likely innocence and assist cabinet determine whether compensation should be paid.[49][81] Robert Fisher QC was then paid $206,000 to peer review Binnie's report.[82]

Another $182,157 was spent by the Crown defending the judicial review requested by Bain's legal team into the decision made by Judith Collins to reject Justice Binnie's report. Justice Minister Amy Adams said the review was "legally complex, lasted for just under two years, and involved several interlocutory hearings."[83]

Justice Callinan's report cost $298,000.[81][84]

Interviewed on Newstalk 2ZB about the Government's apparent reluctance to pay compensation, Prime Minister John Key said: "To get compensation, the Bain team has to prove, not that he's not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.. he has to basically prove Robin Bain did it and then has to provide exceptional circumstances."[54]

Bain's life after acquittal[edit]

Following his acquittal, Bain undertook a three-month European holiday paid for by his supporters. Ten months later, he was struggling to find work and had no money. Auckland defence lawyer Peter Williams QC said Bain would be suffering from the stigma experienced by ex-prisoners re-entering the workplace.[85] In September 2012, Bain became engaged to his girlfriend, a Christchurch primary school teacher,[86][87] and they were married on 10 January 2014.[88] While in prison, another woman visited him for about five years, but this relationship ended after several failed appeals.[89]

Popular culture[edit]

The jumpers worn by David Bain during the original trial, knitted by Margaret Bain to his own designs, became a symbol of the Bain case.[90] During the retrial, T-shirts inspired by the jumpers were sold on Trade Me.[91] Reflecting the high level of public interest in his case, in 2009, David Bain was found to be by internet search engine Google the most-searched for New Zealander of the past year.[92]

The December Brother, a 2010 play produced by Tim Spite[93] for Wellington's Downstage Theatre, depicts re-enactments of the Bain family killings. It presents two scenarios – the first with David Bain murdering his family, and the second with his father, Robin Bain, carrying out the killings, then taking his own life. The play was based on the theories put forward by the legal teams for the defence and prosecution during the trials.[94]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Privy Council recorded the school as being Taieri Mouth Primary School,[2]:2 but according to James McNeish the name of the school was Taieri Beach School.[12]:123


  1. ^ a b David Bain The day of the Bain family homicides, 20 Jun 1994, TV3
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "David Bain v The Queen Opinion: Privy Council". 11 May 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "David Bain found not guilty". 3 News NZ. 5 June 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Young, Audrey (10 September 2012). "Bain innocent and deserves payout, judge tells Cabinet". NZ Herald. 
  5. ^ Young, Audrey (10 September 2012). "City divided on compo for David Bain". NZ Herald. 
  6. ^ a b "David Bain: Retired judge to head compensation claim". The New Zealand Herald. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016. 
  7. ^ a b NZ Newswire (19 February 2016). "Doubts about `leak' of Bain compo report". Yahoo News. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ A million dollars for David Bain – just don’t call it compensation, The Spinoff
  10. ^ Van Beynen, Martin (6 June 2009). "The Bain mystery". Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "David Bain – A Profile". Retrieved 4 August 2007. 
  12. ^ a b c d McNeish, James (1997). Mask of Sanity. Auckland: David Ling Publishing. ISBN 0-908990-46-4. 
  13. ^ Van Beynen, Martin (22 April 2009). "Laniet scared of brother David, witnesses say". Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  14. ^ Gay, Edward (17 March 2009). "David Bain could not explain 111 'they're all dead' call, court told". New Zealand Herald. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Bain takes his case to the law lords". NZ Herald. 25 February 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2016. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Binnie, Ian (30 August 2012). "Report For The Minister Of Justice On Compensation Claim By David Cullen Bain By Hon Ian Binnie QC" (PDF). NZ Herald. 
  18. ^ Police Complaints Investigation Authority, para 210
  19. ^ Police Complaints Investigation Authority, para 212
  20. ^ Bain's sister Laniet was to tell of incest, NZ Herald, 16 May 2009.
  21. ^ Laniet to 'blow the whistle' on incestuous relationship Stuff 15 May 2009.
  22. ^ McNeish, James (1997). Mask of Sanity. Auckland: David Ling Publishing. p. 244. ISBN 0-908990-46-4. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "David Bain V The Queen – Privy Council Judgment, para 46". 
  25. ^ "David Bain V The Queen – Privy Council Judgment, para 40". 
  26. ^ "David Bain trial: Three possible outcomes". The New Zealand Herald. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  27. ^ a b Van Beynen, Martin (10 June 2009). "Karam gets $330,000 in legal aid". 
  28. ^ a b Cumming, Geoff (15 December 2007). "Joe Karam: Freedom fighter". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]