Robin Bain's school 'a shambles'

The Taieri Beach School was a complete shambles at the time of Robin Bain's death in June, 1994, school principals who knew Robin at the time have told the High Court in Christchurch.

Malin Stone, the first of the defence witnesses at the David Bain retrial, was principal of Berwick School when Robin was at Taieri Beach. As a new principal in 1991, he had used Robin as a mentor.

''I found him extremely motivated, and very laid-back, which was interesting for me as I was 'pretty up-tight' as a new principal,'' Mr Stone said.

They worked quite closely together as both were interested in computers. Robin was at the forefront of computing in the Otago area at that time.

''He was streets ahead of anyone else I knew. And he was using computers a lot in the classroom,'' Mr Stone said.

Robin was motivated and interesting, had a great sense of humour and was fun to be around.

But by 1994, that had changed.

When both schools were at a camp at Berwick Forest, Robin essentially did nothing apart from on the first day.

He was quiet, seemed caught up in his own thoughts and was not motivated.

''He seemed to have lost a lot of interest," Mr Stone said. He thought Robin was discouraged because he knew he could not advance any further in his career.

He recalled him becoming angry and aggressive at a meeting at the Teachers College, virtually abusing the lecturer.

Mr Stone described it as ''very out of character'' for Robin whose character had changed dramatically from the way he had been.

The Robin Bain he had known was ''fazed by nothing''. He was always calm and collected.

Mr Stone said he went to the Taieri Beach School the day after Robin's death and found the classroom ''a shambles'' and ''everything a mess'', with no evidence of planning, no programmes of work and everything ''disheveled''.

Another retired school principal who had been based at a Mosgiel school described Robin being more ''negative and own to it'' in early 1994.

Kevin MacKenzie said the Taieri Principals Association organised a professional development seminar for July 1. That was motivated in large part by their concern for Robin who seemed quite depressed because of his failure in applications for other teaching positions.

Mr MacKenzie said he vividly remembered Robin's appearance at the May meeting. He was quite disheveled, his hair was all over the place and he was not dressing like a professional colleague.

''And he looked gaunt and down to it.'' He was also ''a wee bit smelly''. That was the first time he had noticed that, Mr MacKenzie said. He described Robin as seeming ''totally different from when I first knew him as a colleague''.

When he went to the school with Robin Davidson, the Brighton principal after the June 20, shootings, he found Robin's classroom ''pretty shambolic'', generally messy and with very little children's work anywhere.

He and Mrs Davidson were just occupying the children while Mr Stone did the administrative work.

And he said the state of the room Robin used as an office ''blew me away''.

Mr MacKenzie also expressed concern at some violent stories published in the weekly school newsletter sent out the Thursday before the Bain family were killed.

One of the stories was about a porcelain doll and a family of five who were all murdered, some of them be being shot.

David Bain (37) denies shooting his five closest family members, Robin, Margaret, Arawa, Laniet and Stephen Bain at the family's Every St home on June 20, 1994.

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