Look­ing back on

Waikato Times Weekend - - WORLD -

Mur­ders are a stock-in-trade for many job­bing jour­nal­ists. We fol­low them from the ac­tual killing to the trial and then to the sen­tenc­ing if the of­fender is found guilty.

Dur­ing a stint as court re­porter in my early days at The Press news­pa­per I cov­ered a num­ber of ma­jor tri­als but noth­ing of the scale of the Bain case.

When the Bain mur­ders hap­pened in June 1994, in

Dunedin, I was liv­ing in Christchurch hav­ing left Dunedin about four years ear­lier af­ter a stint at the Otago Daily Times.

I can’t re­mem­ber my re­ac­tion to the Bain mur­ders but it was prob­a­bly that of most shocked New Zealan­ders.

I be­gan writ­ing about the shoot­ings in 1997 af­ter the re­lease of Joe Karam’s book David and Go­liath, which I found quite a con­vinc­ing read.

But I knew some of the re­porters who cov­ered David Bain’s first trial who thought Bain was ob­vi­ously guilty so I was scep­ti­cal about a lot of Karam’s rather dog­matic pro­nounce­ments.

I wrote re­views of Karam’s book and also of a book called The Mask of Sanity by the late renowned New Zealand au­thor James Mc­Neish who at­tended Bain’s first trial.

That sort of made me the Bain case re­porter for The Press and I kept a loose watch on it un­til 2009, when I was as­signed to cover Bain’s sec­ond trial in Christchurch.

We had been promised new de­fence ev­i­dence that would es­sen­tially blow the Crown case out of the wa­ter and I was gen­uinely ready to be con­vinced.

Af­ter the trial I wrote an opin­ion piece ex­plain­ing why I thought David’s claims of in­no­cence were not sup­ported by the ev­i­dence and why he was prob­a­bly guilty.

The ar­ti­cle stim­u­lated a lot of de­bate and ap­peared to have been widely read, judg­ing by the feed­back. It also meant that I had, by dis­parag­ing the jury ver­dict, nailed my colours to the mast.

De­spite the books al­ready writ­ten about the case, I thought it cer­tainly de­served an­other, if only to up­date the pub­lic on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments and ev­i­dence. The sec­ond trial’s tran­script was well over 3000 pages while the first trial had only 500.

I hoped to write a fuller ac­count than those writ­ten by David Bain’s ad­vo­cate Joe Karam, which I re­gard as be­ing mainly about the de­fence po­si­tion.

I thought I was in a pretty good po­si­tion to write a book about the case.

As men­tioned, I cov­ered all of the re­trial.

As David Bain said in a New Idea mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle af­ter the trial: ‘‘If any­one can pass judg­ment ,it can only be those who sat through the whole trial.’’

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