David Bain has paid tribute to his father Robin for helping him become the man he is today.
Speaking at the International Justice Conference in Perth yesterday, Bain spoke lovingly of the family he was charged with killing in their home in Dunedin in 1994.
In a sometimes almost tearful address, spliced with the odd touch of humour, he told about 150 delegates at the conference organised by the West Australian Innocence Project, his father was a hugely capable man who had great pride in his family. He always felt he could trust him implicitly.
"I will always remember the examples he set and will be forever grateful for his help in becoming the man I am today."
Bain was convicted of the murder of his parents and three siblings at a trial in 1995 but was acquitted after a retrial in Christchurch in 2009. His defence maintained the killer was a depressed and disturbed Robin Bain.
Bain's advocate Joe Karam also spoke at the conference after Bain and became emotional on the podium. "I'm surprised I'm crying. To see him standing there – it's a very proud and emotional moment for me."
Bain began his address saying he was very nervous. He said he wanted to tell the audience a "little story". One of the most painful aspects of "this tragedy", he said, was he learned through a friend after "everything became final", that his youngest sister had sought his help before her death.
"Due to my attention being focused on my own life and the fantastic things I was heavily involved in I was unaware of the malevolent undercurrents that were happening in my own family.
"I often wish I could have done something and if I had only seen her on that day when she sought my help it could have been the one thing that might have changed the outcome."
He said he always had a sense of responsibility for "my younger siblings".
As his parents' marriage deteriorated, he and his siblings had tried to get on with life.
"I didn't pay much heed to what was happening around me. Life had only just started. To most of my friends I was just a normal, slightly over-active young guy."
He told of finding his family dead and of being arrested days later. Police had pressured him to "fess up" and he had just kept trying to explain where they had got it wrong. He would never forget a police officer saying: "Congratulations David. You are now a criminal."
His first trial still haunted him. "They systematically destroyed my reputation and the good name of my family. In my view the system has failed me.
"I believed it was there to protect me. It didn't. It betrayed me. Taking a person's innocence is the next highest crime when this is done with regularity by the system we have put in place."
His time in prison was a continual battle with depression and against being institutionalised. He and a group of lifers had formed an informal group and looked after each other. Some still remained strong friends today.