No compo, but David Bain accepts Govt payment

David Bain (Getty)
David Bain (Getty)

David Bain won't be granted compensation after a report found him not innocent on the balance of probabilities, but he has accepted a Government payment.

Justice Minister Amy Adams held a news conference in her Beehive office on Tuesday morning.

The decision is the latest milestone in Mr Bain's case, which Ms Adams says brings the legal wrangle over the case to an end.

Ms Adams said it was one of the "most complex, unique and high-profile cases New Zealand has ever known". 

She says because of that, people will have fixed views on the case.

"One thing I like to think we all need to agree, is that at some point, some finality needs to be achieved."

She received the final report from retired Australian judge Ian Callinan AC QC about whether Mr Bain deserved compensation in January this year.

It found Mr Bain didn't meet the threshold to be awarded compensation.  

But the Government has agreed to pay Mr Bain $925,000 "in recognition of the time involved and expenses incurred by Mr Bain during the compensation process and the desirability of avoiding further litigation".

"Mr Bain has accepted this payment in full and final settlement of all matters," Ms Adams says.

She says the outcome is "pragmatic" and finally brings to an end the long-standing argument for all parties.

Had the outcome not been agreed on, it was likely the case would drag on "with no more likelihood of absolute answers than we have today".

She said the payment was not compensation for Mr Bain - his application failed - but was rather an ex-gratia payment done without legal obligation to do so and to avoid further litigation.

Long-time supporter of Mr Bain, Joe Karam says as yet, the payment hasn't been received by Mr Bain's lawyers.

Mr Karam says a news conference will be held "in due course", and until the payment is received is "constrained from comment".

He says he's been contacted by "every news organisation in New Zealand" as well as some international media following the decision.

"I have been Mr Bain's official representative in regard to his claim for compensation. This has occupied me almost full time over the past six years. I have completed thousands of pages of submissions to Justice Binnie and Justice Callinan as well as to Ms Adams herself."

The cost to the Government for David Bain's compensation:

Ms Adams said Justice Callinan noted the case's divisive nature. "He went on to say it was likely no one will ever know what happened."

She says any obvious comparisons between Mr Bain's case and Teina Pora who was granted $2.5 million in compensation for his wrongful imprisonment were wrong, Ms Adams says.

"I think people have to accept every case is different on its merits, every application is considered very differently and the quantum is very different."

Mr Pora was offered the compensation and a Government apology for the nearly 21 years he wrongly spent in prison for the rape and murder of Auckland woman Susan Burdett.

He has accepted the payment, but is challenging the decision in court to include inflation to the compensation figure.    

Mr Bain was first found guilty of the murder of his five family members on May 29, 1995, following a three-week long jury trial.

He was sentenced to a mandatory life term in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years.

Following years of legal battles including the Privy Council, Court of Appeal and input from then Justice Minister Phil Goff who said there were a "number of errors" in the Crown's presentation of the case, Mr Bain was granted a retrial in 2007.

In the second trial in 2009, a jury trial found Mr Bain not guilty of the murder of his parents Robin and Margaret, sisters Laniet and Arawa and brother Stephen.

But the battle for compensation was only just beginning, with Mr Bain asking for compensation for the 13 years he spent in prison.

In 2010,the Government rejected a proposal to settle a compensation claim for wrongful imprisonment. The following year, the Government appointed retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Justice Ian Binnie to asses Mr Bain's compensation claim.

Justice Minister Judith Collins rejected Justice Binnie's report after Robert Fischer QC found a number of errors.

In January 2013, Mr Bain's lawyer Michael Reed QC announced there'd be a judicial review of Ms Collins' decision.

Later that year, TV3's 3rd Degree programme revealed clues which could prove Robin Bain fired the murder weapon. But police later said they had evidence which debunked the theory.

In January 2014, Mr Bain married Liz Davies in a private ceremony outside Christchurch.

In February 2015, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced the judicial review proceedings had been discontinued following an agreement between parties.

Cabinet resumed its consideration of Mr Bain's compensation claim for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

In February 2016, it was reported retired Australian judge Ian Callinan AC QC found Mr Bain not "innocent beyond reasonable doubt" which would mean he'd fail to meet the "extraordinary circumstances" for compensation.

But the Government wasn't even sure the report had been leaked to media in the first place.

"There's all sorts of speculation, some of which is quite inaccurate... it raises questions about what the media has, or thinks it has," Ms Adams said at the time.