Robin and Margaret Bain and three of their children were shot and killed in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 20 June, 1994. This was a familicide, a multiple murder where one member of the family killed the others. From the start, there were only two suspects – the father, Robin Bain (who then committed suicide), or the eldest son, David Bain, who was the only survivor. Speculation about who was responsible for this tragic event captured public attention in New Zealand for 22 years – ever since David returned home from his paper run that morning and, at 7:09 am, called the police reporting that his parents and three younger siblings had all been shot while he was out. See transcript of the 111 call.
Who did it?
“… that these events were so bizarre and abnormal that it was impossible for the human mind to conceive of any logical or reasonable explanation”
There is a compelling explanation…
As we now know, the judge and jury at the first trial did not have all the facts. So no wonder the police version of the story seemed bizarre. But during the next fifteen years, as former All Black, Joe Karam kicked the case up the field of Appeal all the way to the Privy Council in London, new witnesses came forward. We learned that David’s parents had been estranged for years and that prior to the killings, his father, Robin Bain, had been very depressed. The Privy Council also heard allegations that Robin had been having an incestuous relationship with his youngest daughter, Laniet.
Multiple witnesses testify about incest
- Sean Clarke was a student at Otago University and knew both David and Laniet. Mr Clarke told the retrial in 2009 that about a month before the murders, Laniet was upset and said she “couldn’t stand what Robin was doing to her anymore” – and wanted to move back home, away from the camper van she was staying in with her father.
- Another witness, Daryl Young, said he went to visit Robin Bain at the camper van 18 months before the murders. He said he “heard Robin’s voice with a female – before Robin came out wearing only a towel and smelling of stale alcohol.“
- Linda Miller, told the court that in 1993 and 1994 she was working in Dunedin massage parlours where she got to know Laniet. She said Laniet was distressed about what her father was doing to her and “that he was raping her basically”.
- Mr Kedzlie, a shop owner in Dunedin, said Laniet came into his shop in a distressed state in early 1994. When he asked her what was wrong, “she replied that there had been troubles at home, she was on drugs and she was having an affair with her father.”
- Stephen Cousins, who employed Laniet in his store before she died, said she told him that her father had been sexually abusing her for years and that it was still going on. He says “he told Laniet to go to the police”.
- Other witnesses said she was threatening to tell the rest of her family.
- One witness said “the whole neighbourhood knew about the incest accusation.”
Shame & fear
This is a credible explanation of what probably happened. It emerged slowly and took years of hard work and dogged determination by Joe Karam, who wrote four books about the case. In 2007 the Privy Council listened to this new evidence and declared a ‘substantial miscarriage of justice’ had occurred. The jury at the retrial also listened and in 2009, David was finally found not guilty. Robin Bain was the only other suspect so the finger of blame inevitably points towards him.
Research on familicide