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Collins retakes control of Bain claim, admits rising costs

Thursday 13 Dec 2012 6:07 p.m.

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Senior Canadian Judge Ian Binnie decided David Bain was probably innocent, and should receive compensation for the 13 years he spent in jail for murdering his family.

But the lawyer who reviewed Mr Binnie's report says it's full of mistakes.

Justice Minister Judith Collins released both reports this afternoon, and says Mr Bain will have to wait to find out if he'll ever receive a payout.

Her criticism today of Mr Binnie’s work was more crushing than ever.

“It is so fundamentally flawed as to the entire basis of it,” she says, “fatally flawed”.

Mr Ian Binnie found Mr Bain innocent on the balance of probabilities, that there were extraordinary circumstances and that this meant he should receive compensation.

Mr Binnie also heaped blame on the police.

"The police conducted themselves with disturbing ineptitude,” he wrote.

It would have been great for Mr Bain – a compensation payout estimated at $2 million for 13 years in jail. But Ms Collins wasn't having a bar of it, and cited a litany of mistakes.

She says evidence ignored in the report included: “blood stains on Mr David Bain's clothing, the broken glasses, Mr David Bain's fingerprints on the rifle, Mr Robin Bain's motive and mental stability, Mr David Bain's post-event admissions and Mr David Bain's admission that he heard Lanette gurgling.”

The review Ms Collins ordered from Auckland lawyer Robert Fisher found that Mr Binnie went beyond his mandate, his approach to the evidence was seriously skewed and he appeared to accept Mr Bain's versions without question.

All this has come at a cost to the taxpayer.

Mr Binnie's report cost $400,000, and Ms Collins says that will not be retrieved.

“I think that we may have to wave that one goodbye unfortunately,” she says.

Another $100,000 was spent on Mr Fisher's review, and Ms Collins has admitted that starting from scratch could cost another $500,000.

“It's a large amount of money involved in this.”

Mr Binnie never expected this – but always knew it was going to be divisive.

“I don't expect everybody in New Zealand to agree with me. I don't expect everybody to be singing with the same voice. But I do expect a fair process,” he says.

Ms Collins says she expects public opinion to be divided.

“Probably half the country thinks it would be a good decision, the other half thinks it wouldn't be a good decision.”

And there is now a real divide between Ms Collins and Mr Binnie.

He sent an angry email to her this morning, it was riddled with spelling mistakes and typos – even the word “solicitor” was spelt incorrectly.

Ms Collins took issue with his decision to write in capitals.

“It speaks for itself doesn't it,” she says. “Generally capitals mean it's someone shouting at you.”

And with that, Ms Collins took back total control of the Bain compensation claim.

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