A group of Robin Bain supporters has launched a petition calling on Justice Minister Simon Power to deny his son David Bain's application for compensation for the time he spent in jail after being convicted of the murders of five members of his family in 1995.Whether Bain gets compensation or not should have nothing to do with public opinion. My understanding of the compensation procedure is that if it can be shown on a balance of probabilities that Bain is innocent, he will be entitled to compensation.
Advertisements were placed in major papers today, calling for people to sign up to the petition at www.davidbain.counterspin.co.nz.
By midday, just over 300 people had signed up.
So what are the petition organisers afraid of? If Bain's guilty as sin (and I assume that's what is behind the petition), how will he ever pass that hurdle? So what have they to fear?
I would be interested to know if any of the petition organisers are relatives who benefited from the estate of Bain’s parents. Bain lost his inheritance because he was found guilty in 1995 of the murder of his parents. I don’t know whether he would have a claim against those relatives now. But an award of compensation might give Bain the funds he needs to fight any legal battles over his inheritance. This is pure speculation, by the way. For all I know, his relatives might be of the view that if Bain is compensated he may be less likely to chase his inheritance.
Anyway, the petition's still dumb. Bain’s been tried and acquitted. One could make a strong argument that Bain should be given compensation even if it isn’t shown on the balance of probabilities that he didn’t kill his family. Why? Because he was locked up for 13 years for something ultimately the Crown failed to prove he did. Anyone who is imprisoned and subsequently acquitted should be entitled to compensation for time spent in prison. Otherwise, doesn’t it send the message that even though someone’s not guilty, they still deserved to be punished? That’s not how our justice system should work.
I’ve never formed a firm view on Bain’s guilt or innocence, and I find the ongoing did- he/didn’t-he speculation both pointless and boring. Critics of the Bain acquittal abound, and I’m sure the anti-Bain petition will attract many signatures. But so what? Are we really going to conduct a public poll each time there is a legal issue to be determined? The only poll that matters is the one taken in the jury room.
Maybe next time I get a speeding ticket I’ll start a petition.