In March 2010, David made an application for compensation for the 13 years he spent in prison after being wrongfully convicted in 1995. The Justice Minister at the time, Simon Power, appointed Ian Binnie, a highly regarded retired Supreme Court judge from Canada to assess David’s claim. He specifically chose an overseas judge to bring an independent perspective to what had become a very contentious case in New Zealand.
After a comprehensive investigation that took 12 months, and included a lengthy interview with David, Justice Binnie concluded in a 187-page report, that on the balance of probabilities, David Bain did not commit the murders, and said:
“It is more likely than not that David Bain is factually innocent…”
“Having regard to the terms of the Cabinet’s ‘extraordinary circumstances discretion’ set out in the Minister’s letter to me of November 10, 2011, it is my opinion that the egregious errors of the Dunedin Police that led directly to the wrongful conviction make it in the interest of justice that compensation be paid.” [Para 21]
In particular, Justice Binnie 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. He also identified at least numerous other errors made by the police in the course of their investigation and said the miscarriage of justice was the direct result of a police investigation characterised by ‘carelessness and lack of due diligence’. Binnie concluded:
“Compensation would express the Government’s disapproval of such a cumulative failure by the authorities to take proper steps to investigate the possibility of innocence. It would be an acceptance of some responsibility by the state for the shame and stigma of a wrongful conviction and 13 years in prison for crimes which, in my view, David Bain is unlikely to have committed.”
More about Judge Ian Binnie’s background here, including his interview with David and key points in his report.