Editorial: 'Evidence' out of line

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 18:05 29/06/2013
ROBIN BAIN: David's father.

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It's a slam dunk, shouts the lawyer. Two marks on Robin Bain's thumb prove he loaded the rifle that was used to kill four of his family members.

Well, no, actually. What they prove is that at the time of his death he had two black marks on his thumb.

They could have been caused by any number of things, and one of them could have been that rifle. But to know that for sure, you'd have to take a sample from the marks and that's not now possible. A photograph isn't enough.

That said, I'm not convinced by the police line either that fingerprint close-ups prove they are cuts. I see a triangle, not two matching lines.

But whichever side you're on, if you have to take a side, this is only one piece of evidence, if indeed it is even evidence.

There are hundreds of other factors to take into consideration, and they all have to be considered together.

Unfortunately, the television programme on which the story featured, 3rd Degree, was not good journalism. Only one side was presented, and even then it did not use experts.

Why wouldn't you ask the police their view beforehand? That's a no-brainer.

But because this case has always captured the public's attention all sorts of people have now jumped on the bandwagon, which is great timing for the Bain camp as it seeks compensation for David.

Great timing indeed.

But this is not going to help.

What's live on the compensation front is a pending judicial review of how Justice Minister Judith Collins dealt with a report by retired Canadian judge Justice Ian Binnie.

A report which recommended compensation be paid.

Ms Collins' response?: That the report contained assumptions based on incorrect facts, and showed a misunderstanding of New Zealand law. So she's hardly going to be swayed by a one-sided TV programme.

If indeed this is game-changing evidence, and it's not, it has been diminished by the way it was presented.

The programme smacked of entertainment, not journalism, and did the seriousness of the case a disservice.

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- The Timaru Herald

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