'Too early' to talk Bain compensation

Last updated 11:56 10/09/2012
David Bain
KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press
COMPENSATION SOUGHT: David Bain wants damages for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. He spent 13 years behind bars before being acquitted of murdering five members of his family.

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Prime Minister John Key says he hasn't been briefed on a report into David Bain's compensation claim and it's too early to make a decision on the matter.

Retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie has reportedly concluded that Bain is innocent of the murder of five members of his family and should be compensated for the almost 13 years he spent  in prison.

It has been suggested he is in line for up to $2 million.

The findings were given to Justice Minister Judith Collins last week. But Key this morning refused to comment on the contents.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japan, Key said Collins is working through the report and taking advice from officials. She was also due to met with Binnie.

"The cabinet would need to fully consider any recommendations, any advice that we might then receive and make a decision from there,'' Key said.

Collins said last week she hoped to announce a decision by the end of the year. The report was supposed to remain under wraps until it was discussed by Cabinet.

Collins was unavailable for comment this morning.

Bain wants damages for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.  He was convicted in 1995 of murdering five members of his family in Dunedin but the Privy Council quashed this in 2007. It ruled a substantial miscarriage of justice had taken place and ordered a retrial.

Two years later, after a three-month trial, he was acquitted on all five counts of murder. His lawyers lodged a claim for compensation and former justice minister Simon Power appointed Justice Binnie to assess the claim in November last year.

Only those who have had their convictions quashed on appeal without order of retrial, or who have received a free pardon, can apply for compensation. They must establish their innocence on the balance of probabilities.

Because Bain was acquitted after a retrial, he falls outside these Cabinet guidelines. But the rules also allow discretion in "extraordinary circumstances", which the claimant must demonstrate. In the course of his inquiry, Justice Binnie interviewed Bain and police detectives who worked on the original murder investigation.

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