Time to compensate David Bain | The Jackal

14 Dec 2012

Time to compensate David Bain

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Yesterday, she [Judith Collins] was forced to release reports on Mr Bain's claim for compensation, after a backlash for her criticising the author, retired Canadian judge Ian Binnie, while keeping it confidential.

She redoubled her criticism of him, saying he went beyond his mandate and made extensive, serious errors.

Justice Binnie points a highly critical finger at the investigation into the 1994 murders of five members of Mr Bain's family, and recommended compensation for him because of its "extraordinary circumstance".

That blatantly breached his terms of reference set by former Justice Minister Simon Power, who explicitly told him that he did not want an opinion on whether Mr Bain qualified for compensation and said the issue of "extraordinary circumstances" was a matter for the Cabinet.

It would seem most extraordinary to make a finding of compensation and not mention the main reason for why that compensation should be granted, which is Police misconduct leading to wrongful conviction. It also appears that that's what the Minister of Justice is most angry about and what is motivating her to try and discredit the well-respected Justice Ian Binnie.

Collins in fact asked for Justice Binnie to outline any extraordinary circumstances that led to David Bains wrongful conviction. In his report (PDF), Justice Binnie has shown that the extraordinary circumstances of extensive police misconduct and flaws in their investigation should mean Bain receives compensation. In my opinion, Binnie is well within the terms of reference to supply such findings.

Collins would of course have preferred that Justice Binnie didn't criticized the Police at all, however that would put him in a catch 22 situation. If Binnie hadn't made any mention of the main reason for why compensation should be granted, then people could complain that his investigation wasn't robust enough to grant compensation.

The NZ Herald also reported:

Police last night rejected damning criticism of their handling of the David Bain case, as it was revealed failures in the original investigation were behind the recommendation that compensation be paid.

The police comment came after the release of retired Canadian judge Ian Binnie's report, which said the basis for Mr Bain getting compensation was the "acts and omissions of the Dunedin police [which] played a significant role in his wrongful conviction".

He said "these acts and omissions constituted so marked a departure from the requirements of the New Zealand Detective Manual of the day as to amount, in terms of the Minister's letter to me of 10 November 2011, to 'serious wrongdoing by authorities' in 'failing to take proper steps to investigate the possibility of innocence'."

Justice Binnie's finding of police failure was due to "criminality or wilful misconduct" on their part.

Serious findings that point the finger directly at police misconduct, so it's no wonder that the manipulative Collins is spitting tacks at Justice Binnie. With the report finding of "egregious errors of the Dunedin Police that led directly to the wrongful conviction" of David Bain the case for his compensation is strengthened and in my opinion should be settled.

Clearly David Bain deserves a large payment for the 13 years he spent in prison for a crime the courts have acquitted him of doing. Justice Binnie has found that the original conviction was a grievous miscarriage of justice because of police misconduct. The report shows there was sustained and serious wrongdoings by authorities that should now be investigated.

But instead of doing the right thing, Judith Collins is further impeding the course of justice in an attempt to minimize the damage to the Police's reputation. She obviously doesn't want to pay any money to David Bain either because many New Zealanders still view him as being guilty. This is a most serious issue because the Minister has a number of powers at her disposal and appears to be willing to abuse them.

The information released revealed Ms Collins had given police a copy of Justice Binnie's report months ago, received a "memorandum" of rebuttal and then passed those comments to Dr Fisher. There is no information showing whether Mr Bain, his lawyers or supporter Joe Karam were given any information early.

So a biased Minister who's hell bent on protecting the police and is manipulating the situation to ensure David Bain and his representatives are at a disadvantage.

It appears that Judith Collins is so ideologically opposed to giving any compensation for wrongful conviction that she's openly attacking a well respected Supreme Court Judge who's findings appear to be entirely correct. Certainly the reasons given by Hon Robert Lloyd Fisher QC, in his review (PDF) of Binnie's report and for a further inquiry don't stand up to scrutiny. Neither does the excuse Collins has made for not releasing all the information to David Bain and his team.

Last night, Ms Collins' office said police needed the chance to respond to the "significant criticisms" contained in the report. A spokeswoman said "police provided comments on Mr Binnie's findings of 'serious misconduct' and his criticism of individuals without right of reply. Police comments were provided to Mr Fisher".

The Police have already had well over a month to work on their public response to Binnies report making Collins' claim that they need more time disingenuous! How long exactly are they going to draw out the situation and what's the total cost to the taxpayer I wonder?

The claims by a Police spokesperson that Binnie's criticism of police officers that don't have a right of reply simply means they're likely talking about officer's who have since died. That's who the report is mostly concerned with, the original investigating officer's like Detective Chief Inspector Peter Robinson.

Another Bain Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Milton Weir, gave damaging evidence that was found to be wrong on five occasions. He was also found to have committed perjury at David Bain’s 1995 trial and the inconsistencies in his testimony are telling. Some of the officers involved are still available to be held to account for their misconduct, but with Collins in charge that's not likely to occur.

The conviction of David Bain was gained on evidence that in more than one instance was false. When Binnie finds that there has been serious misconduct, he's likely referring to that false evidence provided by police which was a clear perversion of justice.

It appears that Justice Binnie has simply demonstrated that the person or persons involved in presenting that false evidence knew that it was false and intended to mislead the jury. That was the main factor in the case that led to David Bain's conviction, a wrongful conviction, built on false evidence provided by corrupt cops. That David Bain should now be compensated for that perversion of justice is no longer in doubt.