Justice Minister Amy Adams has confirmed that David Bain’s application for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment has been concluded:
“This case has been one of the most complex, unique and high profile cases New Zealand has ever known,” says Ms Adams.
Ian Callinan QC, a former Justice of Australia’s highest court, was appointed by Ms Adams on 19 March 2015 to provide advice on Mr Bain’s claim. Mr Callinan’s report was received by the Minister on 27 January 2016.
“Mr Callinan’s report found that Mr Bain has not established his innocence on the balance of probabilities. As such, no statement of innocence or compensation payment will be made to Mr Bain.
“However, the Crown recognises that the compensation application process has lasted nearly six and a half years and that this has been an incredibly difficult and complicated case for all involved. Reaching this point has taken longer than anyone would have wanted it to.
“In addition, since receiving Mr Callinan’s final report it has become evident that Mr Bain and his advisors didn’t accept Mr Callinan’s findings. They made it absolutely clear that they intended to legally challenge that report, leading to considerable further cost and delay in this matter.
“While the Crown is confident in the strength of its position in any such review, it’s clearly desirable to bring finality to this case and avoid the cost and uncertainty of further proceedings.
“In my view, no one benefits from this matter continuing to drag on. In light of that, the Crown has agreed to make an ex gratia payment of $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.
“This resolution is a pragmatic one that recognises the unique circumstances of this case and a desire on all sides to bring this matter to a close,” says Ms Adams.
“While many New Zealanders hold strong views on the case, the complexities of the evidence and the opinions that evidence has given rise to, are such that those views are likely to continue to be firmly held without clear resolution.”
“While the issue has divided opinion in New Zealand, I am satisfied that the matter has at least now been concluded.”
The Minister is quite clear the payment is an ex gratia one and not compensation but that won’t stop others using it as a precedent.
The two Callinan reports are here and here.
From part way down page 114 in the first one, Mr Callinan lists objective or otherwise incontestable facts.
From page 118 he lists contestable facts.
From page 138 he gives his conclusion and the reasons for it.
New Zealand juries are required to find people guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury has reasonable doubt as to the accused’s guilt it has to opt for not guilty.
Being found not guilty beyond reasonable doubt doesn’t mean the accused has been proven to be innocent.
Unlike in a court, Bain and his supporters had to provide enough evidence to find him innocent and Mr Callinan found they were unable to do so.