Experts agree Robin Bain loaded gun

By 3 News online staff

Experts who have tested the weapon used in the Bain family murders agree that marks on Robin Bain's thumb and forefinger were most likely caused when he loaded the gun.

Robin, his wife, two daughters and a son were found shot dead in their home in June 1994, and his eldest son David Bain was arrested for their murder.

David was sentenced to life in prison, but after an unsuccessful appeal, the Privy Council in 2007 quashed David's convictions and in 2009 a retrial found him not guilty, after he had already spent 13 years in prison.

Now evidence has emerged that could point the finger at Robin.

'Robin Bain shot himself'

Three experts have told 3rd Degree that photos of Robin's hand show he loaded the murder weapon, a .22 Winchester 490 semi-automatic rifle, shortly before his death.

The photo shows he had dark lines on his thumb and forefinger, which experts agree are likely to have come from inserting bullets into the gun's magazines.

Expert gunsmith Robbie Tiffen, who has worked for the New Zealand Army and the United Nations advising on weaponry, is convinced that the marks were from loading a gun magazine.

"My opinion is the magazine was loaded, and Robin Bain then shot himself and that's the end of that. So the markings have remained."

Mr Tiffen said the grey marks are on the fingers which one would use to load a cartridge, and are the right colour for firing residue. He also found the distance between the two parallel markings is the same distance as the width of a magazine. And most importantly, he said if the firing residue was still there, the gun must have recently been fired, as "carbon firing residue only stays on your hands for a limited amount of time before touching or handling something" - in other words, it rubs off easily.

Gun shop owner and top marksman Richard Munt is also sure the marks were made by loading a magazine.

"Because they were parallel, and when I looked at the photos later, then did some measurements, they were bang on the size of a .22 calibre magazine."

Specialist scientific photographer Peter Durrant also analysed the photos of Robin's hand.

"All I can say is that those marks on there are quite consistent with somebody loading bullets into a clip like that," Mr Durrant said. "When the bullets have been fired from the clip, there's powder residue. That's very obvious. That being the case, it's very, very easy to transfer that residue from the magazine to, in this case, the edge of Robin's thumb."

Mr Durrant did not know of anything else that would have caused those sorts of markings.

"If there's anything else out there that can cause that kind of thing, I haven't seen it."

The murder weapon is tested

David's key supporter Joe Karam and his legal team applied to test the original murder weapon and under supervision of a police detective and a Crown forensic scientist, tried to replicate the marks.

Mr Tiffen fired the rifle, and found it continually jammed and misfired, which was consistent with the 19 bullets which were found around the Bain house after the killings.

A five-shot magazine and a 10-shot magazine were found along with the gun, which meant the killer would have had to load both magazines, and reload at least one of them to fire 19 shots.

"We did tests with both [magazines], and both of them caused these marks on the thumb… to leave powder residue marks, very, very similar to the marks that you can see on Robin's thumb," Mr Tiffen said.


Robin Bain's thumb (top left) and the thumbs of people who tested the murder weapon

The question now is whether this evidence could be used to help David get compensation for the 13 years he was in prison. David has applied for compensation, but Justice Minister Judith Collins found a compensation report to be flawed, and intends to commission another report. For David to get compensation, it needs to be proven that he is factually innocent of the murders.

3 News

source: newshub archive