Just imagine you’ve just served nearly 13 years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. You are seeking compensation for those lost years and the government has asked one of the Commonwealth’s most distinguished judges to report on whether a payout is justified. You feel the Government’s decision to use a highly-qualified legal expert from outside the country who is neutral is sensible — as most New Zealanders hold a view of the case that is either for you or against you.
The distinguished judge comes to the conclusion that on the basis of probability you are innocent and should be compensated. End of story? No.
The sorry saga goes on
As we all know, the real story for David Bain is not over. After spending a lot of money employing Canadian Judge Ian Binnie to do the report, Minister of Justice Judith Collins is not satisfied.
On the basis of her feeling that there have been misunderstandings of New Zealand law and a lack of impartiality in looking at the evidence, she employs a New Zealand High Court Judge to peer review the Binnie findings. On cue, Robert Fisher comes back and announces deficiencies in the report.
The government’s real motives?
What happens now? Will there be another report to satisfy the Justice Minister’s views?
There are strong feelings that the government:
- Didn’t want a report concluding that David Bain is innocent
- Doesn’t want to pay out the millions in compensation.
Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says; “She (Judith Collins) has spent half a million dollars now on getting this advice.
“She needs to act, and rather than keeping on looking for the advice that she wants, she needs to act on the advice that she’s got. She wanted an independent review of the case, that’s what she’s got.”
Bain’s lawyer, Michael Reed, gave his view of what the government wants: “Just imagine for a moment if he (Binnie) had said that David was guilty. Do you think the minister would have thought there were flaws in the report then? Of course not.”
Most New Zealanders hold one of two views on the Bain tragedy: That David Bain was responsible for the massacre or that his father, Robin Bain, did it and then committed suicide.
Very few will change their position. But in the end it is not what you or I, or Judith Collins, or Robert Fisher thinks, it’s a question of providing justice.
That’s not easy. Only one person knows for sure who was responsible, and that is David Bain. Robin Bain cannot give his side of the story and there are no action replays. But what if David Bain did do it? Would he be seeking compensation?
Justice on the basis of probability
Would a third report and the spending of more taxpayers’ money really help? It is time to put the case to rest and accept that three judicial developments over the last five years have all supported David Bain:
- May 2007: The Privy Council in London concludes that a .. substantial miscarriage of justice has actually occurred in this case.” They recommend a retrial.
- June 2009: At that retrial, the jury finds David Bain not guilty.
- December 2012: In his report, Canadian Judge Ian Binnie recommends that David Bain be compensated for the lost years.
Two of these conclusions were the result of careful consideration by overseas legal experts free from the persistent media hype in New Zealand. The other development was a decision by a New Zealand jury. This has to be enough for David Bain to be compensated.