Saturday, January 12, 2013

Your tax dollars at work

I realise that many of our readers will be heartily sick of reading stuff about the Binnie report, but what the hell, I feel like writing about it.

If Collins does get someone to do a review of this report, they've got a huge job on their hands sorting through the faulty reasoning. In an opinion piece for the Herald, C.K. Stead pointed out the rather obvious logical failure inherent in attempting to assess the merits of an accused murderer's claim for compensation by taking the accused's word for it.  Here are some examples of that from the report:

1.  The prize example is this one, in which we learn that David didn't wear the clothes used by the murderer:

David says the clothes he was wearing when the Police arrived around 7.20 am are the clothes he put on when he got up to do his paper route and continued to wear until taken to the Police station. There is no compelling reason to disbelieve him. (para 49)

2.  Then there's the apparently important evidence that Robin was in the house before David: he'd brought the newspaper in from the gate before David got back from his paper round.  The basis for this evidence:  David says so. (para 107)

3.  The Crown's suspicion about the shooting target paper with five circles drawn on it in a row of two and a row of three can be disregarded because: turned out the target was drawn up by Robin when he helped David to “sight” the new Winchester .22 when purchased in 1993.

The basis for that view:  David says so. (para 147, footnote 70)

4.  A pair of glasses was found broken in David's room the morning of the murders, and a missing lens from them later found in the room where a struggle with one of the victims took place. Evidence that David was wearing those glasses the evening before the murders can apparently be disregarded because it is "contradictory" - which seems to mean that witnesses say David was wearing them but he says he wasn't.  In fact, this one is particularly egregious, as Binnie claims early in the report that he accepts Michael Guest's evidence that Bain was wearing the glasses the night before the murders (para 20), but doesn't let that stop him from treating it as unknown further down (para 55.vii).  Binnie seems rather good at declaring he's doing something but then not doing it.

5.  Evidence from Mark Buckley that David mentioned to him the possibility of using his paper round to create an alibi for a crime. According to Binnie, this evidence can be disregarded because David "testified that Mr Buckley’s story was complete fiction." (para 148)  Perusal of Binnie's interview with David Bain  reveals that Bain backed up his claim that Buckley's story was fiction by declaring, and I'm not making this up, that Buckley had it in for him because David had caught him engaging in a deviant act with a goat.  Binnie seems to have found this a compelling argument.

6.  Evidence that the victims' blood on David's clothes was from innocent transfer rather than seeping through outer clothing worn during the murders: David says he didn't wear the clothes used in the murders. (para 208)

7.  Evidence that David didn't leave the bloody sock prints on the carpet: the shoes he ran the paper round in had no blood in them.
Basis for this evidence: David says he wore those shoes on his paper round, and since he also says he didn't change his clothes we can apparently assume he would have worn a bloody right sock in those shoes if he was the murderer. (para 226-228).  I kid you not, that is Binnie's basis for his conclusion.

Binnie's assessment of the footprints evidence is just plain bizarre,  At times, he seems to regard his task as being to assess the adversarial achievements of Crown and defence, rather than to assess whether David Bain can demonstrate innocence on the balance of probabilities.  With regard to the footprints, he considers the fact that Robin Bain's socks were unstained when he was found and takes into account the obvious point that if Robin were the murderer he could be expected to have thrown the blood-stained socks in the wash with the rest of the blood-stained clothing and put on a different pair - because that's what the defence case argued he did (para 222).  However, the Crown didn't argue that David might have chucked a pair of socks in the wash, so Binnie doesn't even consider this as a possibility (para 225-228). If David were the murderer he can't possibly have done the obvious thing ascribed to Robin and changed his socks, because the Crown didn't say he did.  Therefore, according to Binnie, David's lack of a heavily bloodstained right sock and clean left sock when found by the Police strongly points to his innocence.  This is so obviously a wrong approach to the task at hand that the word "stupid" seems hard to avoid.

On reading the report, it strikes me that Binnie could have saved himself a lot of time and effort by just writing "David Bain says he didn't do it.  There is no compelling reason to disbelieve him."


pdm said...

PM the one problem with your last para is that Robin Bain was never alive to be able to say that he didn't do it.


Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Does anyone remember the cacophonous chorus of outrage from the left when Minister Collins announced she would be sidelining the Binnie report?

The insulting references to a 'failed tax lawyer' and such like?

Judith Collins has more brains and ability in her little finger than the combined commentariat of The Standard, Kiwiblog, Tumeke and other socialist sites.

gravedodger said...

Anybody who considers Robin Bain killed himself has a very warped knowledge of the mechanics of inflicting that wound with that rifle with its silencer in place;
Difficult, very.
Possible, yes.
Likely, not very.
As a provable outcome in the light of the sum of the known evidence, definitely not.
Great Post Milt.

Just be very grateful Mr Bain you no longer have the conviction but innocent on the balance of probabilities, Bain, Binnie,Karam and all those who support compensation no way, no how, no money, end of story.

Paul Deacon said...

Unlike many other Kiwis, I do not pretend to know what happened on the day of the Bain murders. Only the Good Lord (and possibly David Bain) know that. Unlike most other Kiwis, I do not have strong feelings on the matter (perhaps because I was outside of the country at the time, and not exposed to the media hype).

I do know, however, that the case represents a monumental cock-up by the NZ judicial system. The Privy Council found (correctly, I believe, I have not seen it disputed) that the NZ Court of Appeal had (a) presumed guilt, and (b) treated evidence like a jury. Apart from outright fraud on the part of the judges, it is hard to imagine harsher criticism of the judicial handling of a court case in the English-speaking world.

Given that 2 of the 3 judges who heard the case in the Court of Appeal were sitting on the NZ Supreme Court at the time the Privy Council judgment was made, the only reasonable conclusion is that ordinary Kiwis are now much more exposed to arbitrary or incompetent miscarriages of justice than they were when the Privy Council was our supreme court. That, I suggest, is the main lesson of the Bain case.

All the best.

Psycho Milt said...

Paul Deacon: yes, Appeal Court judges seem very reluctant to consider the possibility their colleagues might not have done a top-rate job. I'm not so sure this one is a particularly bad example, though. It's a relatively minor cockup compared to the Peter Ellis case - at least there is actually credible evidence against the accused in the Bain case.