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Guilty or Not Guilty?

The Bain Homicide Case (Part II)

by Kevin Sturgeon

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Last month, I mentioned, there is 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.

The defence called witnesses to refute or reinterpret evidence on virtually every issue. These ranged from motives, physical evidence and professional opinions on controversial matters, some of which were genuinely open to conflicting readings.

Cross-examinations were quite forcefully inflicted on some witnesses. Aggressive questioning of witnesses is a common ploy, designed to attack the actual witness, when the evidence itself is sound.

Such witnesses may be quite shocked if they are not experienced, and any hesitation or confusion will be later referred to by the defence when they sum up. The objective there is to detract from the evidence in chief and to confuse or perplex the jury members. While I can discourse on virtually all the disputed factors, I will present just a few as I believe these will put all the others in a fresh context. The remaining issues can then be dismissed.


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.

Both the defence and the prosecution believed it was either David or Robin who committed the five homicides. No-one else was involved. I believe they were right in this regard.

David Bain claimed he had come home from his paper run, then washed the outer clothes he had worn on the run, including track suit pants and a top. He washed some other clothing too and the green jersey worn by the murderer. (Figure one)

He claimed he then discovered the bodies of his family and called the 111 phone number. This scenario was vigorously contested by the prosecution as, by his own evidence, there was about twenty minutes not accounted for between arriving home and calling the emergency number. Figure one……


David Bains track-suit pants and red T-shirt are shown, along with other items from a laundry basket that he washed. He also washed the green jersey worn by the murderer. I will move straight to the vital evidence.


The scene in the lounge shows Robin’s body, the rifle and the green curtains near the computer alcove. Robins body is over a metre from the curtains. There were bloodstains belonging to Robin on the carpet near the rifle.


So, blood issuing from Robin’s head-wound dropped onto the carpet before he ended up some distance away, lying by the coffee table. The spots are marked with red arrows.

But a pathologist, Professor Ferris, testified that anyone shot through the centre of the brain would drop immediately to the floor. He was a very experienced and credible witness who had performed over 2,000 autopsies on head-shot victims. There are many film and video records of summary executions made in Viet Nam and other world conflicts. Such a head-shot victim flops instantly to the ground.

I had observed this in animals during my youthful hunting days. It is as if a marionette had its’ strings cut, so it would just crumple immediately into a heap.

All power to muscles, tendons and sinews is switched off so there can be no staggering, just a collapse into a pile. The position and delineation of the body would be determined by the pose held at the time of the shooting. A upright person would crumple directly to the floor, or if leaning, along a lateral line in that direction.

It is important to note that in the latter case, the body would not pivot, as for instance, a rigid falling tree would. It would not be supported by leg tendons and muscles, as they would have ceased to function. Any lateral collapse would be as if an unconscious body was dropped to the floor and it would just crumple in a pile. Note here that the defence simulated how Robin had to stand to affect his suicide. He would have either leaned forward and/or to the left. He could not have fallen or pivoted back. The .22 calibre round has absolutely no impetus effect on the body.


Basically, it would not be possible for a person shooting themselves, as suggested by the defence, to have ended up far from the place where the shooting took place. Also, the person would have collapsed forwards or to the left. Robin’s body was on his back, some distance away from his blood stains on the carpet and alcove curtain.

But the body was well backwards from the blood stains on the carpet, where he must have been at some time. How was that possible? Why was the rifle not under or near the body?

The whole setting in the photograph instantly highlights something was obviously wrong, to an experienced eye.

A further undeniable piece of evidence was yet to come.


To be continued in next month's edition of elocal Magazine!

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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