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Guilty or Not Guilty?

The Bain Homicide Case (Part III)

by Kevin Sturgeon

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On June 20, 1994, five members of the Bain family were shot in the head using David Bain’s .22 rifle. The defence argued that the father, Robin Bain, had shot his wife, two daughters and his youngest son Stephen, then committed suicide with the same rifle. The Police charged the eldest son, David Bain, with the murder of all five family members.

There are a multitude of issues in this case. Not least the legitimate tactics employed on both sides to present their side of the argument. The trial lasted 3 months and 183 witnesses were called. Four million dollars were spent on legal aid for the defence. Nearly another million was paid to the defence team to stop further litigation, all at the tax-payers continuing expense.

Approximately 65 centimetres above floor level, a smudge of Stephen’s blood was discovered on the left-hand green curtain. The rifle was smeared with Stephen’s blood but the only blood found on Robin’s body was his own or was too little to analyse.

On the right-hand curtain, less than one metre from the floor, were drips of Robin’s blood, skull bone and brain matter. (Figure five)

The black arrow points to the drips of Robin’s blood, bone and brain matter.

How could the body have been so low as to drip this material there, yet still rear metres to the coffee table. Defying the evidence that all muscles and tendons had lost their ability to hold him upright, he would have had to somehow stand up from that low point, to stagger to the table. Clearly, this is impossible.

Even if he had somehow overcome the above difficulties and fell backwards onto the bean-bag cushion, he would have had to then roll onto his back. I will explain this statement. Consider the wound on Robin’s left temple. The entry-point was well round to the side of his head.

Yet the photographs show the blood would have to have travelled upwards to reach his forehead, then across the head to one side and to the back of his head. Note also the short independent ridge of blood above his right eye. It could not have reached there from the prone position his body lay in. (Figures seven and eight).

The blood trails upwards from the entry wound!

As well as running uphill from his temple, there is an independent ridge above his right eye. These events could not have happened if he had fallen onto his back.

So, what has happened?

The body must have been moved.

He must have initially been facing downward to have the blood run upwards in the direction shown on his temple. That is how the body should have remained, having no motive-power to do otherwise.

If the body was then moved, the drops would have been shed on the carpet near the rifle. The short splash above his right eye could also have happened then. Who could have done this?

David was the only person left alive now.

The jury had been told this, it seems. If so though, how could they ignore the only possible explanation? Maybe the answer to this mystery can be found in the transcript?

Why would David move the body? I conjecture at this point that if Robin was shot by David while the latter hid behind the alcove curtains, as the prosecution alleged, he might have wanted to deflect any attention from the alcove. The smudge of Stephen’s blood on the curtain could have been placed then, either from the blood-smeared rifle or from David himself. Remember Robin did not have Stephen’s blood anywhere on him.

A spent round was found well inside the alcove and would have been lost to David in the dark. It was exactly where a spent round would have been automatically ejected to out of the right-hand side of the rifle, if fired inside the alcove. (Figure nine)

How it could have got there from outside the narrow gap between the curtains is problematic, to say the least.

How was the body moved into that position?

Post mortem lividity is a phenomenon which occurs in a body after the heart has stopped pumping. There is no longer any blood-pressure. Under the influence of gravity, the blood flows down to the lowest point of the body e.g. along the back of the trunk and legs in a prone body or down to the lower legs and hands in a suspended body. It shows as a pinkish blush. As time passes, the blood begins to thicken and congeal.

Once the latter stage occurs, the lividity becomes fixed. If this area is touched, the congealed blood squeezes away from the pressure and remains in the new position. It could be compared to toothpaste in a tube which shifts when it is squashed.

A text-book example of a pressure-mark in congealing lividity. Robin’s right arm is flush to the floor and the red/pink lividity shows in his hand and wrist.

Note the lividity marks on Robin’s right wrist. If you grasp your own right wrist firmly from beneath for five seconds, with the palms upwards, you will see the marks left by this pressure. Now observe the same pattern of the fingers in the lividity on Robin’s wrist! The marks are not as clear as in the text book example for good reason. Robin’s body was still warm when the ambulance men checked it. This was despite it being on a cold winter’s day.

Lividity had still not fully developed, wherein the blood would have congealed to make clearer images if touched. In Robin Bain’s wrist example, there is evidence of only partial congealing and partial liquid still being present.

Next, look at the pattern of the creases on Robin’s sweat shirt. They all meet at a recurve shaped like an arrow-head, with the tightest lines across to the left armpit. I can posit that Robin’s right wrist was gripped and the sweat shirt was grasped at the same time, to drag the body into a final suitable position. I can see no other reason for these two observations but admit they might be contentious. Certainly, the police had moved the sweat-shirt at some stage, as can be seen in different photographs, but it is very unlikely someone would have grabbed the body as described, above apart from David Bain.

The red pointer indicates the recurve, or grip point, at the head of the arrow-head formation and the white lines show the creases in the sweat-shirt leading to the recurve.

The most damning and unequivocal evidence against David is yet to come.

An ESR scientist found blood smudged on the rear of the T shirt that David was still wearing. It was worn under the clothing he had washed. She also located blood soaked into the lower front of the black shorts he was wearing under the track-suit pants he had washed. David would not have been able to see the blood on the back of the T shirt, nor the dark patch of blood on his black shorts. That blood was all Stephen’s.

These blood stains in Stephen’s blood were found on the back of the T shirt David Bain was wearing when the Police arrived.

The ESR scientist indicates the marks of Stephen’s blood on the shorts David Bain wore under the track pants he had washed.

In the first trial, when David gave evidence, he said he just touched Stephen’s shoulder when he found him on his bedroom floor. How was it possible to have attained the blood stains in such awkward positions in that case? He surely must have lied under oath. He chose not to take the stand in the last trial.

His lawyer often made statements on David’s behalf, though. These would appear to be hearsay, if he was just repeating what David had told him. Otherwise, he was just making it up to fill a void.

For example, David had said in his statement to the Police he had heard his sister Laniet gurgling, after she had been shot. Reed QC told the court that David could see there was nothing that could be done for her, so he just turned off the light and left the room. His medical expertise to reach that conclusion was thankfully not posited by Read QC though.

There was never any satisfactory explanation for the blood on his clothes. How could the jury overlook this? They were told by Reed QC that he somehow inadvertently collected these stains while walking around the house (despite David’s evidence in the first trial).

The blood had apparently soaked through any outer garments he had worn, which he later washed. An accidental transfer would be extremely unlikely, especially on the crotch of his shorts and on the lower back of his T-shirt!

The murderer went from room to room after he had shot Stephen, leaving blood smudges from the distinctive cuff of the green jersey on two door jambs shown in figures fifteen and sixteen.

The smudging here is a multiple impression of the single image in figure fifteen.

There is a clear pattern in the knitting on the cuffs and waistband. It is the same pattern on each of those parts. (Figure seventeen)

David had also washed the green jersey with his track-suit pants.

But green fibres from the jersey were found under Stephen’s fingernails. Stephen had desperately fought for his life against the murderer. He had deflected an early shot with his hand, causing the bullet to graze along his scalp, spraying blood from the wounds around the room and over the culprit. He was eventually semi-strangled before succumbing to the fatal shot.

The small black arrows indicate sprayed blood spots.

Stephen’s blood was sprayed and wiped onto his bed as he fought his attacker.

The murderer would have had considerable blood staining over his clothing, incurred during the desperate life-or-death struggle.

I aligned the bloody marks from the doorways with the marks in Stephen’s blood on the rear of the T shirt David was wearing shown in Figure twenty.

If the blood stains on the T shirt are carefully examined, even the individual stitches on the jersey are reproduced, along with the patterns. There is not a full transfer of the pattern, because the whole jersey would not have been soaked in blood.

Also, the image on the T-shirt is transferred from the underside of the green jersey onto the T-shirt, whereas the blood stains from the doorway are from the outside of the jersey. Therefore, the raised and recessed patterns are reversed and this effect can remove or adds marks depending on which side of the jersey left the impressions.

The smudged marks above the compared impression on the T-shirt appear to be drag marks from the marks below them. This would happen when the jersey was pulled off, smearing the still wet blood as the jersey was removed. The green jersey was then washed.

How could the waistband/cuff patterns have got onto the rear of the T-shirt, other than if David Bain was wearing the green jersey? During the trial, David Bain was asked to try on the woollen green jersey and it was too small for him, then. Remember though, he had thrown it into the washing machine with all the other stuff. Would it not have shrunken in that wash?

By any reckoning, this puts the green jersey on David Bain’s back. The murderer was wearing the green jersey.

Kevin Sturgeon is a fingerprint expert and retired Inspector with the NZ Police. A member of IFPI, he is currently the director of Fingerprint and Forensic Services Ltd.

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elocal Digital Edition – April 2019 (#217)

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April 2019 (#217)

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