Bain Family Murders

While not an Australian crime, the Bain Family Murders in Dunedin – New Zealand was still a crime that cause horror in our part of the world. Today Horror Australia takes an in-depth look at the killings which saw a gangly 22-year-old musical student convicted on murdering his parents and three siblings, before having his conviction quashed in 2007 by the Privy Council and a re-trial ordered in Christchurch’ High Court.

It was a typical cold Dunedin morning, drivers were forced to watch for ice while the early risers rugged up in their warmest clothes to try and break the chill.

At nine minutes past seven in the morning a triple one emergency call was being connected, a call that would forever divide the small country of New Zealand and forever have the population asking whether one fit, yet gangly, 22-year old musical student and paper boy could really kill his entire family.

Ambulance Officer Thomas Dempsey: Ambulance, can I help you?
David Bain: Help.
Thomas Dempsey: Yeah.
David Bain: They’re all dead.
Thomas Dempsey: What’s the matter?
David Bain: They’re all dead. I came home and they’re all dead.

The three simple words “They’re all dead” uttered by the sole survivor of a horrific crime scene at in the Dunedin suburb of Andersons Bay was the start of a murderous mystery that twenty-three years later still has the country wondering whether David Bain was responsible for the June 20th 1994 murders of mother Margaret (50), father Robin (58), sisters Arawa (19) and Laniet (18) as well as his brother Stephen (14) all of whom had been killed by a .22 rifle.

Officers raced to the scene, and at 9:20 am just eleven minutes after the emergency phone call was made police officers were on the scene at 65 Every Street – off Sommerville Street.

Constables Kim Stephenson and Geoff Wyllie were the first to enter the gruesome scene that would shock even the most seasoned officers on the New Zealand Police Force.

I was making the coffee and Kim wasn’t feeling very well and thinking of going home again and then the call came over the radio,” Constable Geoff Wyllie recounted at the 2009 retrial of David Bain.

We had very little information to go on. Just go to 65 Every Street and the whole family is dead. We couldn’t get any more information immediately,” the Constable who at that time had been on the job for three-and-a-half-years said on the stand while giving his evidence.

The two officers made their way up the path towards the front door to the house – once a handsome but gloomy property built around 1850 whose best days had already passed by the time the Bains brought it 1974 and on this fateful morning was almost beyond repair – the pair saw the silhouette of a head and shoulders in one of the windows by the front door.

Remembering the Aramoana Killings taking place just 20km North-West from where they now stood just four years earlier, in which David Gray shot and killed thirteen people including police officer Stewart Guthrie, Constables Stephenson and Wyllie turned their torches off and stood still waiting to see what the silhouette would do.

From his position to the right of the front door Wyllie looked through the window, noticing that some of the long curtains were tattered allowing him to peer through.

I could see a firearm on the floor and I could see a hand.” Wyllie recalls.

Constables Kim Stephenson and Geoff Wyllie were joined on scene by Constable Les Andrews and Sergeant Murray Stapp, all arming themselves with their issued .38 police revolvers they once again approached the house and tried to get 22-year-old David Bain to open the door.

I remember asking him to open the door and he said no. I asked him ‘Where’s your father?’ Often it’s the father in these matters and he just pointed across the hall.” Constable Geoff Wyllie stated at the 2009 retrial of David Bain, claiming the exchange took place after cautiously approaching the window he and partner Kim Stephenson had seen the silhouette earlier – now identified as David Bain.

With the firearm accounted for Wyllie believed they were probably dealing with a murder-suicide however with Bain apparently too upset and in shock to move or talk the officers on scene needed to force entry to the property.

Despite not feeling the best Constable Kim Stephenson gave the front door three solid kicks, but the door didn’t budge an inch. Surprisingly considering that the house was so run down, and weathered, it looked as though one gust of strong wind would bring the entire structure crashing to the ground.

Sergeant Stapp used a piece of firewood from the stack on the veranda to break a pane in the door before cleaning the glass out of the frame using his revolver and unlocking the door from the inside.

Bursting through the front door the police officers found themselves tripping over knick-knacks that were sprawled throughout the property, the Bains had a reputation of being hoarders and in the light of day their homestead could easily be described as in squalor.

David Bain was sitting on the floor, in the foetal at the end of the bed in his room, a room later described by police as the neatest of all the rooms inside the property.

Directly across the hallway another room where the body of Robin Bain, aged 58, lay on the ground a .22 rifle immediately to his side.

Constable Andrews stands at the door, and raises his revolver to cover Constable Geoff Wyllie and Sergeant Murray Stapp as they venture down the hallway.

Constable Kim Stephenson asks David “How many live in the house?

To which, in between sobbing and wailing, the 22-year-old David Bain replies “There are six of us.

Constable Stephenson leaves David Bain under the supervision of Constable Andrews and goes to the room immediately across from where David was sitting, and where Constable Wyllie earlier saw the point-22 rifle and the hand through the window, and finds the body of Robin Bain – the rifle laying on the ground at right angles to his body.

Robin is discovered fully clothed, and has just one bullet wound near his left temple.

Constable Wyllie had only made it as far as the next bedroom on the left, where shining his torch to break up the early morning darkness he discovers the next body.

There’s one in here,” he proclaims.

The body is that of Laniet Bain, aged 18, whose lying under a duvet cover on the bed which is positioned against the far wall of the room.

She has suffered three bullet wounds to the head, one through the top of her head and two close to her left ear.

On the right of the hallway was another room with a curtain across the entrance in place of a door. Sergeant Murray Stapp pushes the curtain off to one side with the barrel of his revolver.

And with faded light sees the body of a woman in the bed, under a thick duvet cover.

Sergeant Murray Stapp had discovered the body of Margaret Bain, aged 50, she has been shot once just above her left eye. In the same room Sergeant Stapp sees another doorway and thinks it must lead to either a wardrobe or dressing room and doesn’t investigate further.

Between David’s room and the room in which Laniet’s body lays dead there is a stairway leading to a lower level of the house. Sergeant Stapp and Constable Wyllie cautiously make their way down the steps.

As the reach the bottom of the stairway they turn right, and find themselves in a dirty kitchen, whose benchtop is sprawled with dirty dishes.

With the adrenaline running through their veins Sergeant Stapp covers Constable Wyllie as he turns right again and disappears down a short narrow hallway which is lined by shelves, filled with bottled fruit and other preserves.

Wyllie comes face to face with another doorway which is covered by two curtains, a net curtain and a curtain made by metal rings.

I pulled the curtain back and looked into that room,” Wyllie told the court at the retrial of David Bain in 2009, “And saw the body of another female on the floor in there,

A couple steps down into that room and from where I was standing, she was sort off on bent back, like on her knees but bent back but looking straight at the doorway where I was standing.” The former Constable told the court when asked to describe how the body – that of Arawa, aged 19, was positioned when she was discovered.

She had quite an obvious wound to her forehead.

Arawa had been shot once, the bullet entering the right side of her forehead, she is wearing a green jersey and pink pyjamas and a track of blood spots can be seen on her thighs.

As police continue to investigate the lower level of the property there was a sickening silence throughout the house, all that could be heard was David Bain from his bedroom wailing and screaming.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs Constable Wyllie calls out to his colleagues that they have found four bodies. Constable Kim Stephenson calls back to inform his partner that there should be six in the house including David.

Constable Wyllie goes to recheck the downstairs area, while Sergeant Stapp heads back into the room where he discovered the body of Margaret Bain to investigate further.

Behind the curtain, in which Sergeant Stapp assumed earlier was a wardrobe, he finds another bedroom and immediately discovers the body of 14-year-old Stephen Bain lying on the floor.

Stapp immediately knew that Stephen was dead, and retreated from the room.

The youngest Bain sibling has three bullet wounds, one in the top of his head, and the other bullet has gone through the palm of his left hand and into his head.

Due to the amount of blood in the room, and the wound to Stephen’s hand Police are under the belief that there had been a struggle and that the fourteen-year-old had fought for his life against the person or persons who had effectively wiped out an entire family.

It was quickly becoming apparent to everyone at the scene that there were only two people who could have been responsible for the carnage.

Robin Bain

Father Robin Bain, reports flooding into the police in the days following the shootings suggested that Robin had been cast out of the family, his marriage had deteriorated to the point that Robin spent the weeknights in the school house at the Taieri Beach School of which he was the Principal at, before returning to the property and staying in a caravan on the weekends.

Other Principals who regularly interacted with Robin told police they had feared he had deteriorated mentally and physically. Not getting interviews for other roles that he had applied for, and to many it seemed that he had lost his passion for teaching, no longer being motivated.

Although he was proud and very fond of all of his children it was suggested that at the time of the shootings he had hit rock-bottom and was struggling.

It was said that Robin was frustrated and down about his career and at wits end over his marriage breakdown with Margaret. Many suggested that he seemed to become more frail as the worry got to him and he became overwhelmed with depression.

The other possible culprit in the house was the only member of the family who remained alive 22-year old David Bain.

David had recently began a part time course at the University of Otago studying in classics and music papers.

His studies gave him the freedom to stay on the dole, and also the time to help his mother in the gardens as they worked on their plans to replace the eroding Every Street property with a new house.

However, investigations by police following the deaths revealed that David hated his father.

Since the demise of the marriage between Robin and Margaret, in which Robin had effectively moved into the school house at Taieri Beach School, by all reports it was David who had become the head of the house.

All responsibilities had fallen onto his shoulders and he was reported to be excited about the new house in which both he and Margaret were deeming ‘The Sanctuary’ – a seven-bedroom property doubling as a wellness centre.

Tensions between David and his father Robin however continued to rise on the weekends when Robin, desperate to save his marriage, would attempt to control the family on the weekend visits in which he returned home to stay in the trailer in the backyard of the property.

David reportedly told a friend in the week before the murder that he felt as though “he didn’t have any friends,” and was too afraid to develop close friends as “Anybody I have ever loved, I have hurt.

It could be argued that one of the most chilling statements to come from the young man prior to the shocking murders of his family came just days before the bodies were discovered when having a conversation in a friend’s apartment he stated
Tensions are so high. I think something bad is going to happen.”

And for police, and an entire country, the mystery began – who killed the members of the Bain family?

What we do know is on Friday, just days before the murders, Margaret spent the day at home, cleaning and getting the house ready.

A friend dropped by to lend her a VHS tape of one of David’s recent performances in a community group production. During this visit which lasted approximately half an hour the friend reports that Margaret was excited as it was the first time in a long time the entire family had all been together.

In addition to Arawa, Stephen and David her other daughter Laniet was also going to be at home for the first time in many months.

Laniet had left home in 1993, unable to cope with the growing tensions in the property as the marriage between Robin and Margaret continued to disintegrate.

She had rented a room in a boarding house in Russell Street where she started working as a freelance escort. Despite her best efforts in concealing the lifestyle to everyone it was obvious to how she was earning her money.

Arawa was in her second year at teachers’ college and was completing university papers. She had a comfortable job as a server at the Museum Café as well as earning additional cash by babysitting.

Murder Suspect Robin Bain had spent Friday morning on the phone in relation to handicapped students to which he required additional funds to help, but as had become the usual, the paperwork was not completed.

Robin had claimed that he would get it fixed up over the weekend and re-submit the paperwork on Monday morning. However, throughout the duration of the week leading up to the murders he had been calling around attempting to find a fill-in for him the following week.

David had completed some studies in the morning and arrived home to work on the garden with his mother in the afternoon.

By all reports that Friday evening the family had Fish and Chips for dinner with Margaret using the microwave to heat up the fish while David and Arawa went to the local takeaway shop to get some hot chips.

After dinner the family settled down to watch a nature documentary that David had borrowed off one of his friends, however Robin and Margaret then decided to change the film to a thriller.

On the day of the murders David claims he awoke and got dressed ready to complete his paper route. For some reason, which he couldn’t explained when questioned by police, he admitted he left early and to get fitter ran to complete the route.

He arrived home, took his now sweaty clothes off putting them into the washing machine before noticing that the light was on in his mother’s room.

Upon entering he found her body, scared and afraid he ran to the lounge room where his dad normally conducted his morning prayers only to find the body of his 58-year-old father.

This, David claims, is when he called the police.

While all signs pointed towards a Murder-Suicide carried out by Robin there were some facets on the crime scene that didn’t add up.

David Bain

In the days following the murders the Otago Daily Times carried increasing coverage of the killings, while David, who at this point was staying with his uncle and auntie nearby, began the tough task of preparing the funerals for his family.

Family members recalled at the retrial in 2009 that David was quite controlling over the funeral arrangements, having a special song picked out for each member of the family, and deciding that his mother and father would be cremated, while his two sisters and one brother would be buried.

If a suggestion was made, that wasn’t his, he would just shut it down or effectively switch off,” one family member recounted.

Family and friends rallied around David, his close friend at the time telling of one conversation they had in the days immediately after the murders in which David reportedly said: “I don’t know what to say to the police to make them believe I didn’t do it.

Suspicion was increasing at Otago’s CIB, and while Detectives on the case were determined to tread carefully with the understanding that they were dealing with someone who had just lost his entire family and that rushing their process could have dire effects.

On the Friday, just four days following the murders, David was driven to CIB by his uncle Bob where three detectives were awaiting them as they exited the lift.

Detective Senior Sergeant Jim Doyle took Bob away for a cup of coffee while Detective Sergeant Croudis and Detective Neil Lowden took David into an interview room for his fourth interview in as many days.

After being informed of his rights the interview officially commenced at 10:43 am.

  1. Your fingerprints have been found in blood on your firearm, why are they there?
  2. I don’t know.
  3. When you say I don’t know, do you mean that you didn’t touch the firearm, you didn’t have blood on your hands or the forensic evidence is false?
  4. I didn’t touch the firearm to my knowledge. I didn’t have blood on my hands as I’d washed them.
  5. Do you accept the forensic evidence I’ve outlined?
  6. Yes.
  7. When we discussed that question earlier you stated you could not account for between 15-20 minutes. Is that an explanation for what happened to your family that morning?
  8. No.
  9. What is it?
  10. It’s a question of what happened to me. After I saw my Father I remember seeing my family being pulled away by black hands.
  11. There is a blood stained fingerprint on the washing machine. How did that get there?
  12. I don’t know.
  13. Are you saying you didn’t make it?
  14. I can’t say that because if it is my fingerprint then it is my hand that has put it there.
  15. There are indications of blood from clothing that appears to have been pushed into the washing machine. Can you tell me why blood stained clothing has been washed?
  16. No.
  17. Do you accept you washed clothes on Monday morning?
  18. Yes.
  19. And in those clothes was at least one pair of socks belonging to you?
  20. Yes.
  21. A sweatshirt belonging to you?
  22. Yes.
  23. A dark jersey belonging to Arawa?
  24. Yes.
  25. When the police located you at the house, you were wearing a white T-shirt with a Queen’s Baton Relay emblem?
  26. Yes.
  27. On the back of that shirt we have observed blood, how did that get there?
  28. I don’t know.
  29. If your previous statements to Detective Sergeant Dunne are truthful, then there should be no reason for that blood to be on your shirt?
  30. No.
  31. When you were located by the police you were wearing white socks. We have located blood on the sole of the sock. How did that get there?
  32. I don’t know.
  33. Again, if your statement to D/S Dunne is truthful there is no reason for you to have blood stained clothing.
  34. Unless I stood in some blood.
  35. Where might you have stood in blood?
  36. I don’t know.
  37. We have located a spot of blood on the black rugby shorts you were wearing. Explain to me how that got there.
  38. I can’t.
  39. There is blood on the porcelain hand basin in the bathroom, how did that get there?
  40. I don’t know.
  41. Did you put it there?
  42. No.
  43. There’s blood on a large towel hanging in the bathroom, a considerable amount of blood. How did that get there David?
  44. I don’t know.
  45. We found blood on the door surround in Stephen’s room. It was a small amount compared with the amount found inside Stephen’s room. There had been a violent struggle in Stephen’s room. Stephen had fought for his life. Can you tell me how that blood got there?
  46. No.
  47. David, do you own any gloves?
  48. Purple woollen gloves, fingerless gloves, and I’ve recently bought new white dress gloves for a ball at Lanarch Castle.
  49. Is that all?
  50. Yes.
  51. Where are those gloves?
  52. The purple ones should be in the top drawer of the wardrobe in my room, the green gloves are on the chair in my room. The white gloves are with my dress scarf in the same drawer as the purple gloves.
  53. Do you keep your dress clothes separate?
  54. Not at all.
  55. The white gloves, do they have a button or gap?
  56. No, they’re plain.
  57. What are they made of?
  58. Elasticated some sort, I don’t know.
  59. Did anyone else in the house have dress gloves?
  60. My Father.
  61. Where would those be?
  62. In the caravan, I don’t know where.
  63. You’re certain he keeps his formal gear in the caravan?
  64. Yes.
  65. In Stephen’s room a pair of white formal type gloves were located. These were heavily bloodstained. Do you know anything about these?
  66. No.
  67. [David]. Can I have a solicitor present?
  68. Who do you want?
  69. I don’t know.

The time as 11:20am when David Bain asked for a solicitor, and through his uncle Bob Clark, Mr. Michael Guest arrived to represent the young man.

On the advice of Mr Guest, David Bain refused to answer any additional questions and also refused a request from police for a medical examination after Mr Guest flat out rejected attempts by the doctors to examine his client.

At 1:46pm that Friday afternoon Detectives formally charged David Bain with the murders of Robin, Margaret, Arawa, Laniet and Stephen.

After a brief court appearance, he was remanded in custody.

Prosecution Lawyers believed they had a strong case, and many questions relating to the murders remained unanswered. While legal experts declared that the case was circumstantial, Defence attorneys were just as confident their client would be found innocent.

At approximately 9:30am on the morning of the murders David Bain asked a police officer tending to him, while the others on scene were exploring the house finding the bodies of the Bain family, for his glasses.

Constable van Turnhout saw a pair of glasses sitting on a chair and picked them up to hand them to David before realizing he shouldn’t be touching them as they were part of a crime scene.

The glasses frame was damaged and no lenses were in the frame, one lens remained on the chair that Constable van Turnhout had picked the frame up from, the other lens had been found in the room where the body of fourteen-year-old Stephen Bain was discovered.

It later transpired that the glasses actually belonged to Margaret Bain, they were an older pair that David used on an irregular basis when his were not available.

A week prior to the murders David had broken his glasses when he tripped in the garden when exiting his singing teachers’ property and his were sent away for repair.

David later claimed that he only used the glasses when watching television or when he needed to attend lectures and his were unavailable.

Further adding to the mystery surrounding the glasses was the police’s own crime scene photos in which it is claimed the lens found in Stephen’s room was clearly seen in the photographs at the toe of an ice-skate.

However, when it was went to be retrieved three days after the murders the lens was found under the ice-skate, raising concerns of contamination.

Mr Wright, the Crown Solicitor put the use and the ownership of the glasses squarely to David Bain in cross-examination as follows.

  1. The pair of glasses which you have produced to the court have a saxon frame?
    A. Yes.
  2. You say they are not yours but they are an older pair of your Mother’s?
    A. That’s right.
  3. The ophthalmologist, Mr Sanderson, from the hospital was of the opinion that they were an earlier prescription of your existing optometry prescription?
    A. That is incorrect. One of these lenses I would not be able to see out clearly to give me full vision.
  4. The ophthalmologist was of the opinion that the prescription of the two lenses that fitted the frame are similar to the prescription prescribed for you in October 1992. Do you recollect him giving that evidence?
    A. I do, that is only in one lens though, not the other.
  5. Were those glasses of assistance to you?
    A. Yes, for watching TV and for going to lectures, but I couldn’t use them for extended periods.
  6. Did you have lectures on Friday 17 June?
    A. As far as I can remember, yes I did.
  7. Did you wear glasses at that lecture?
    A. No, no. I had forgotten about those glasses here, the ones exhibited, because I only used them rarely and hadn’t thought of getting them for classes.
  8. You have referred in your evidence to watching a video on TV over the weekend?
    A. That is correct, yes.
  9. Did you use the glasses for that purpose?
    A. No, I hadn’t thought of using them.
  10. Where were these glasses kept to your knowledge?
    A. In Mum’s room. In one of her drawers, I suppose. I don’t know exactly where.
  11. Were you aware the spectacle frames were in your room on the morning of 20 June?
    A. No I wasn’t.
  12. Were you aware that the spectacle frames have apparently been damaged?
    A. I am aware now of that, yes.
  13. Would the glasses have been any use to you, the frames, without the lenses in them?
    A. I wouldn’t have seen a reason for wearing them.
  14. Were the glasses in your room, the frame and the lens, in your room on the Sunday night?
    A. No.
  15. Can you account for their presence as found in your room by the police on the Monday morning?
    A. No, I cannot account for that.
Laniet Bain

Another crucial point in the prosecution of David Bain was the traces of blood police found leading from Stephen’s room, using luminol – which reacts to blood, which at times is not visible to the naked eye, which luminates under black light.

When luminol was sprayed throughout the house at 65 Every Street in Dunedin five clear sock prints could be seen leading from Stephen’s bedroom, through the bedroom of mother Margaret’s down the hallway and to the top of the staircase leading downstairs.

The best two prints measured in at 280mm, and all were from the right foot. Mr Peter Hentschel, the ESR Specialists that was brought in on the case referred to one of the prints that measured in at 280mm was as close to a full print as he has seen in a crime scene.

Detective Sergeant Milton Weir, who was assisting Hentschel prior to the first trial of David Bain in 1995 said that one of the prints looked as a print would if someone was walking through sand on a beach.

A number of tests were undertaken by Kevan Walsh, a scientist employed by the ESR in Auckland relating to the length of the bloodied sock prints. There were a number of difficulties associated with this determination. Two are as follows.

[1] Because this type of print is visualised as a glow in the dark a direct measurement will have some inaccuracy.

[2] The print size will depend on the extent of staining on the sole.

Mr Walsh used his own foot for the tests. His foot is 298 mm in length. The result from those tests showed that a shorter print is made when standing rather than when walking.

The length of the prints made when walking never measured less than 280 mm and were mostly between 290 mm and 300 mm. From these experiments it could be concluded that a walking person with a 300 mm foot, which is the length of David Bain’s foot, making sock prints with the sock completely bloodied, would be expected to make a print greater than 280 mm.

However, Kevan Walsh was of the opinion that a print of 280 mm could be made. An examination was also completed of the socks of David Bain.

This test showed that the maximum length of the blood staining that would be printed by a person wearing the sock who had a 300 mm foot would be about 288 mm.

Depending on the position of the sock the length of blood staining could be as short as about 271 mm.

Further tests were done by Kevan Walsh in 2008.

Wearing a sock he immersed his right foot in a tray of cow or pig’s blood.

The length of the prints he made were never less than 280 mm and mostly between 290 mm and 300 mm.

He also did tests while standing and found a luminol visualised sock print measured between 269 mm and 287 mm with an average of 279 mm.

Mr Walsh also had a student with the same size foot as Robin Bain conduct tests. The average length of his luminol visualised walking print was 282 mm and the variance was from 273 to 292 mm.

No standing test was carried out.

Which effectively means that either of the main suspects in the case, both David and Robin Bane could have been responsible for the sock prints discovered under the luminol test.

However, it would be neglectful if we didn’t discuss the biggest issue of the overall crime – that being the Bain family computer. On it police found a note typed “sorry, you are the only one that deserved to stay.”

The computer has been one of the most contentious points of the overall Bain Family Murders with experts arguing on everything from the time the computer was turned on, to who could have possibly typed the note.

The first computer expert brought in to examine the computer stated that the computer was turned on at 6:44am, however, after it was revealed that he was working on a watch that was two minutes fast this time was adjusted to 6:42am.

However, another computer expert from the Police Electronic Crime Laboratory was commissioned to report on the time the computer was turned on.

His analysis employed more sophisticated technology than that which was available to the first computer expert. His analysis revealed a number of previously unidentified issues in relation to the first computer experts calculations.

These issues included time lags in the computer clock’s mechanisms that the first expert was unaware of. According to his calculations the computer was turned on between 6.39.49 a.m. and 6.49.11 a.m.

No-one has been able to determine who turned the computer on, by David Bains own admission he should have been walking through the front door of the house at approximately 6:44 a.m.

While Robin Bain’s alarm clock was set for 6:30 a.m. which meant that he could have easily made his way from the caravan in the backyard to the house by 6:35 a.m. to turn on the computer.

Experts also debate on who typed the message that sat flickering on the screen as Crime Scene Investigators scoured the house.

It is widely accepted though that had it been Robin Bain, who had a long career as a teacher and in later years a principal, he would have probably have written ‘deserves’ instead of the incorrect grammar of ‘deserved’.

In addition, Robin wrote weekly letters to his mother, and brothers. It seems that it would have taken more time to start the computer and type the message in than it would’ve to write a note saying the same thing.

By writing a note Robin would have also immediately exonerated the one person who ‘deserved’ to stay.

Convicted Murderer David Bain at his retrial.

With the trial already taking twists and turns, and a whole country divided with their beliefs that this 22-year-old student either killed his family, or for one reason or another was spared, it was several chilling testimonies and statements made to the police that threw an even bigger cloud over the entire ordeal.

In the month prior to the killings Laniet grew increasingly upset, she stated to close friends and neighbours that she was trying to get out of the escort business.

She stated that she found herself caught in a web as her pimp was threatening to expose her lifestyle to her parents, this added to Laniet’s fear of going near the house, and especially her father.

She had confided in a neighbour “He was doing things that were inappropriate to her,” and claimed “Robin was touching her in ways he shouldn’t be.”

While she didn’t come out and say incest was happening neighbours and close friends state it was easy to figure out what she was talking about.

At David’s retrial in 2009 Dean Cottell – who was rumoured to be Laniet’s pimp – stated that he had seen Laniet on Friday afternoon and she had told him that her father ‘was having sex with her’.

He went on to further claim that Laniet was heading to her parents house that weekend to tell them everything and get an opportunity for a fresh and clean start to life.

Meanwhile, friends of Arawa stated that they felt uneasy visiting the 18-year-old at the Every Street property. They claimed in statements to the police that it seemed as though the teenager was always looking over her shoulder and avoided conversations out of fear she would be over heard.

One friend went as far as to say that Arawa had “Things she couldn’t tell anyone about. Some sort of family secret.

The family was disjointed, Robin was on the outside looking in according to friends and family. Margaret, David, Arawa and Stephen didn’t want Robin around.

While Laniet was very supportive of Robin.

In May 1995 David Cullen Bain was convicted on all five counts of murder, and was sentenced by the presiding Judge to the mandatory Life in Prison with a non-parole period of sixteen-years.

However, in 2007, twelve-years after first being sentenced, Bain’s legal team – with the support of former All Black Joe Karam successfully appealed to the Privy Council, who declared there had been a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’.

David Bain was released on bail in May 2007 where a retrial took place in 2009 which resulted with his acquittal on all charges.

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.

Canadian jurist Ian Binnie was appointed in November 2011 to review the circumstances and advise the government on whether compensation should be paid.

Binnie concluded that the Dunedin police made ‘egregious errors’ and that the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ in the case justified the payment of compensation.

This report was rejected by the Minister of Justice, on advice from High Court Judge Robert Fisher

In March 2015, the government appointed Ian Callinan, a retired justice of the High Court of Australia, to conduct a second review of Bain’s compensation claim.

Callinan’s report, in which he concluded that Bain was not innocent on the balance of probabilities, was delivered to the Minister of Justice on 26 January 2016.

The Minister announced that no compensation would be paid, but that Bain would be given an ex gratia payment of $925,000 if he agreed to stop all further legal action.

David Bain has since married girlfriend Liz Davies, and legally changed his name through deed poll to William Davies – taking his wives surname.

On 3rd December 2014 they welcomed a baby boy into the world, and it was reported in early 2017 that the stigma surrounding ex-criminals has followed Bain preventing him from being able to find work to support his family and he was therefore moving to an undisclosed location in Australia.



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