After 18 years, David Bain case still divides

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
LINGERING DOUBT: David Bain, now 40, was found guilty in 1995 of murdering his parents, brother and two sisters in Dunedin the year before. He was acquitted after a retrial in 2009.
LINGERING DOUBT: David Bain, now 40, was found guilty in 1995 of murdering his parents, brother and two sisters in Dunedin the year before. He was acquitted after a retrial in 2009.

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Six out of 10 Kiwis believe the Government should compensate David Bain for the 13 years he spent in jail - but fewer are sure about his innocence.

A Fairfax Media-Ipsos political poll shows most voters are firmly in Camp Bain, with 60 per cent agreeing he deserves a payout for wrongful conviction over the murder of five members of his family.

However, when asked if Mr Bain was wrongfully imprisoned in the first place, those surveyed were less certain. Almost a third of the 1000 people polled were not sure, and only 40 per cent were convinced it was unjust. Of that 40 per cent, 91 per cent said he was entitled to recompense.

The divisive case has dominated headlines since Mr Bain, now 40, was found guilty in 1995 of murdering his parents, brother and two sisters in Dunedin the year before. He was acquitted after a retrial in 2009.

His bid for compensation is on hold, after his legal team asked for a judicial review of the way Justice Minister Judith Collins handled the case.

In December she rejected a report by retired Canadian judge Ian Binnie, who said Mr Bain was entitled to compensation.

Pollster Ipsos says voters fall into four main camps: 36.2 per cent say he was wrongfully jailed and deserves compensation; just under 22 per cent say he was not wrongfully imprisoned and deserves nothing; 10 per cent have mixed views about imprisonment and compensation, and 32.8 per cent are simply not sure.

Ms Collins has faced accusations that she politicised the claim - which she denies. The matter is complicated by the fact Mr Bain is not automatically entitled to a payout because his case falls outside Cabinet guidelines.

Only 4 per cent of those polled made direct reference to Ms Collins' recent decision, suggesting she has dodged political fallout.

But those who did mention her actions were strongly critical of what they viewed as interference with judicial process. Only four respondents agreed with her stance.

Among the comments was: "It's an indictment to the judge and an insult on the system . . . he is en titled to compensation."

Another said: "The independent judge was brought in to basically decide the merits of the case . . . Somebody took [the Government's] ball so they wanted to stop playing."

And one commented: "Over the years . . . that young man has been dealt a very terrible hand by the Crown and the Government so he deserves everything he's going to go for."

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But another said: "There are still too many doubts."

Belief that Mr Bain should receive compensation was strongest among Maori Party voters (78 per cent). National Party supporters were least likely to agree to a payout (53 per cent).

National and Conservative Party voters were more inclined to believe Mr Bain was not wrongfully imprisoned. Younger people were more likely to agree that he deserves compensation.

- Fairfax Media

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