Bain not guilty on all counts

With one arm wrapped around the shoulder of his great supporter Joe Karam, David Bain fought back tears outside the High Court at Christchurch today.

At last a free man, after one of the longest and most dramatic legal battles in New Zealand history, Bain managed a few words before his voice left him.

"All I can say is that without Joe and his solid strength, without the love of the people that have supported me since day one, I

Full coverage in tomorrow's ODT.
Full coverage in tomorrow's ODT.
wouldn't have made it through this far," he told cheering supporters.

"Joe, has been there through everything for me."

Bain spent 13 years in jail for a crime the jury took five hours and 50 minutes to decide he didn't do.

Mr Karam spent millions of his own money fighting the case as far as the Privy Council in London, and back to Christchurch.

Michael Reed QC, who headed the Bain legal team, left no doubt that Bain was entitled to compensation for his many years of lost freedom.

Bain would have to apply to Cabinet for compensation, he said.

"Of course I believe that should happen after 13 years in prison. Think how long 13 years is in prison," he told reporters.

Mr Karam stopped an emotional Bain from answering media questions when he emerged from the court, having spent several minutes inside composing himself after the verdict.

Mr Karam said it had been two years since Bain had walked out of the same court in the wake of the Privy Council ruling his first trial had been a substantial miscarriage of justice.

Within a month "we were forced to embark upon what no doubt will go down as the criminal trial of New Zealand's history".

"What has really mattered, what has really mattered is that the truth, as I said 13 years ago, has finally fallen where it has always been.

"It has only been a very very unfortunate attitude by various authorities ... that has caused this thing to last until 2009 and put this good man here through what he has been through."

He said he could not have "fought the evil I have been forced to fight without David", and the legal team headed by Mr Reed.

He paid tribute to Bain's supporters, his own friends and family who had been through an "incredible ordeal", and the whole legal team.

The most pressing business now was to head off for a "tipple", Mr Karam said.

Patti Napier, a supporter who knew Bain before the murders, told Radio New Zealand it was an amazing feeling.

"We're just so absolutely ecstatic ... this one's worth a lot of tears, it's been a long time coming, and we're just so so glad to have him out." She had been terrified when the jury came back.

"We've been through so many knockbacks for so many years, it was terrifying, I was standing there with my husband, I was just squeezing the heck out of his hand and just (took) deep breaths and hopefully we got what we want, what we came for, and we have, and we're just absolutely over the moon."

They had supported Bain through the years because they knew he was not the murderer he had been portrayed as.

"I've never, ever at any stage thought he was guilty, I just thought he was the victim of a really bad judicial system to start with and now at least I've got a bit more faith in the system because this time I think they got the verdict right and we get him home."

David Bain has been found not guilty of the 1994 murders of his parents and three siblings in Dunedin after a gruelling retrial which has gripped the nation.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for five hours and 50 minutes before arriving at their vedict.

People in the court cheered and clapped when the verdicts were announced.

The wife of defence lawyer Michael Reed - a district court judge - cried, and people in the court room gave three cheers for David Bain supporter Joe Karam.

Mr Karam said David Bain was very emotional, and he would leave the court room in a few minutes.

Justice Graham Panckhurst had told the jury the case swung on one key question - was the killer David Bain or were the killings a murder-suicide carried out by his father Robin?

The judge spent almost five hours on Thursday directing the jury and summarising the main points put by the Crown and defence during the three-month trial.

The vedict comes 14 years after Bain's trial for the June 20, 1994, murders of his parents and three siblings at their Every St home.

Bain (37) was found guilty at the end of a three-week trial in the High Court at Dunedin in May 1995, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 16-year non-parole term.

He was released on bail two years ago, after the Privy Council ordered a retrial.

His retrial has described by defence lawyer Michael Reed QC as "undoubtedly the most extraordinary case in New Zealand legal history".

The judge and jury have heard evidence running to about 4000 typed pages from 184 witnesses - 130 for the Crown and 54 for the defence.

Police have accepted the jury's verdict.

"Our role is to put the best evidence available before the court to enable it to reach its decision. We believe we did that," said Detective Superintendent Malcolm Burgess.

"We are disappointed with the outcome but accept the jury's decision."

However, police stood by the investigation they undertook in 1994, he said.

"The investigation was thorough and impartial. The material presented as evidence over the past few months is essentially the same material presented in the first trial.

"As with all investigations, there are things we could do differently and things that we learn. However, we need to remember these events happened in 1994. Procedures are different now -- there is better forensic testing and improved investigation procedures for dealing with investigations."

Mr Burgess said it was not the police's intention to re-litigate the evidence in the public arena.

"For police, this decision puts an end to the matter."

 

 

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