Bain retrial costs police $500,000

David Bain
David Bain
Police spent more than $500,000 on the David Bain retrial, while the judge assessing Mr Bain's compensation claim is charging $450 an hour.

The former Dunedin man was convicted in 1995 of murdering his family and spent 13 years in jail before being acquitted in a 2009 retrial.

An application for compensation for wrongful conviction from Mr Bain was received by the former minister of justice, Simon Power, on March 25, 2010.

Documents released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act reveal police spent $519,954 preparing for and during the 2009 retrial.

The amount was largely for travel, accommodation and general expenses. It does not include staff costs because police salaries cannot be linked to specific operations.

Southern District criminal investigations district manager Detective Inspector Stephen McGregor said at one stage Operation Huia - the name given by police to the retrial - had about 15 staff on the case.

Asked how many hours of police time was involved, he conceded it was likely to be "thousands of man hours" with Southern District staff also assisted by their counterparts in Christchurch.

The Christchurch-based retrial added significantly to the final cost.

All costs incurred by businesses or police witnesses had to be paid for by the police.

Det Insp McGregor said he had worked on the original inquiry in 1994, but some of the retrial staff were not involved in that inquiry, which was "done for a reason".

"One person who was, Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis, was the original arresting officer so he was naturally involved."

He praised his staff for being "incredibly professional" throughout the retrial.

"You have to accept the verdict, whatever one thinks of that verdict ... you do have to move on."

Det Insp McGregor said he had not been contacted by retired Canadian judge, Ian Binnie, who was assessing Mr Bain's compensation claim.

"I think everyone, whether the police or the public, will be interested in the outcome of that."

Ministry of Justice documents show Justice Binnie is being paid $450 an hour and will be reimbursed for reasonable costs, travel and accommodation for the purpose of his assessment of Mr Bain's claim for compensation.

His assessment will be in two stages. The first is a report on whether Mr Bain has established his innocence, at a minimum, on the balance of probabilities and any other factors relevant to the assessment.

If, following that report, the Cabinet agrees to compensate Mr Bain, the second stage will be to assess an appropriate level of compensation.

Cabinet guidelines show the starting figure for calculating non-monetary losses should be set at $100,000, which is multiplied on a pro rata basis by the number of years spent in prison.

"This pro rata figure should then be added to an amount of general compensation adjusted for the presence or absence or specified mitigating or aggravating factors," the Cabinet guidelines noted.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it was not known when Justice Binnie's assessment would be completed.

The former Dunedin man was convicted in 1995 of murdering his family and spent 13 years in jail before being acquitted in a 2009 retrial.

An application for compensation for wrongful conviction from Mr Bain was received by the former minister of justice, Simon Power, on March 25, 2010.

Documents released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act reveal police spent $519,954 preparing for and during the 2009 retrial.

The amount was largely for travel, accommodation and general expenses. It does not include staff costs because police salaries cannot be linked to specific operations.

Southern District criminal investigations district manager Detective Inspector Stephen McGregor said at one stage Operation Huia - the name given by police to the retrial - had about 15 staff on the case.

Asked how many hours of police time was involved, he conceded it was likely to be "thousands of man hours" with Southern District staff also assisted by their counterparts in Christchurch.

The Christchurch-based retrial added significantly to the final cost.

All costs incurred by businesses or police witnesses had to be paid for by the police.

Det Insp McGregor said he had worked on the original inquiry in 1994, but some of the retrial staff were not involved in that inquiry, which was "done for a reason".

"One person who was, Detective Senior Sergeant Kallum Croudis, was the original arresting officer so he was naturally involved."

He praised his staff for being "incredibly professional" throughout the retrial.

"You have to accept the verdict, whatever one thinks of that verdict ... you do have to move on."

Det Insp McGregor said he had not been contacted by retired Canadian judge, Ian Binnie, who was assessing Mr Bain's compensation claim.

"I think everyone, whether the police or the public, will be interested in the outcome of that."

Ministry of Justice documents show Justice Binnie is being paid $450 an hour and will be reimbursed for reasonable costs, travel and accommodation for the purpose of his assessment of Mr Bain's claim for compensation.

His assessment will be in two stages. The first is a report on whether Mr Bain has established his innocence, at a minimum, on the balance of probabilities and any other factors relevant to the assessment.

If, following that report, the Cabinet agrees to compensate Mr Bain, the second stage will be to assess an appropriate level of compensation.

Cabinet guidelines show the starting figure for calculating non-monetary losses should be set at $100,000, which is multiplied on a pro rata basis by the number of years spent in prison.

"This pro rata figure should then be added to an amount of general compensation adjusted for the presence or absence or specified mitigating or aggravating factors," the Cabinet guidelines noted.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it was not known when Justice Binnie's assessment would be completed.


Breakdown of costs

Between 2006-07 and 2010-11 police spent $519,954 on the Bain retrial. That comprised:

- $304,459 on travel, accommodation and general travel expenses

-  $215,495 on general administration expenses


hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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