Innocent Explanations

Opinion: The media is suddenly exploding with the news of new evidence in the Bain case.  This is not really new evidence but an observation made about old evidence. There are two marks on Robin's thumb that are similar in appearance to marks left when loading bullets into the magazine for the rifle used in the murders and it is known that at least one of the magazines would need to have been reloaded during the course of the bloody rampage.  A forensic expert has agreed that the marks could indeed indicate that Robin loaded the magazine.

This alleged evidence may have an innocent explanation.  Karam would debunk evidence like this by explaining that the marks were never analyzed and so we do not know for sure if the marks are residue or were merely the result of the work that Robin did on the guttering the day before.  The backs of Robin's hands were covered with such marks.  Anyone who has ever gotten near a corrugated iron roof to clean the gutters or, in Robin's case, replace gutters, the inevitable consequence are skin breaks and other marks all over the hands.  Alternatively, the marks may have some other explanation.

It needs to be noted that there are dozens of items of incriminating evidence against David that Karam gives innocent explanations to.  Here are some:

  1. The broken glasses.  Because there is no blood or forensic evidence on these, then they do not connect to the murder scene, even though they were found broken and sitting on David's chair with the lens found in Stephen's room and David admitted to wearing them when his own were not available, which was the case that weekend.
  2. David's gloves were bloodied and found in Stephen's room.  Karam ignores the police argument that David used them in order to avoid fingerprints on the gun, and instead explains that, either Robin used David's gloves (rather than use his own gloves which were in his caravan) or Stephen borrowed the gloves and they somehow got bloodied by simply being in the room at the time.
  3. There was testimony that Arawa said that David would walk round the house threatening members of the family with his gun.  Karam argues that this was just teenage hijinks.
  4. David's rifle was used in the murders and he had control of it.  Karam argues that any member of the household had access to it, despite it having a trigger lock and David controlled the key.
  5. David had Stephen's blood on his clothes, indicating that he must have visited his room.  The police argue that the blood was there because David killed Stephen, while Karam claims that the blood got their via innocent transfer from David visiting the body or the cat or dog walking over him.  The blood was on the crotch of his shorts and the front and back of his t-shirt.
  6. David told the Police that he visited only his mother and father's bodies which contradicted what he told the 111 operator which was that "they're all dead".  Karam explains this as resulting from the shock that David experienced immediately upon finding the bodies impacting on his memory.
  7. David's fingerprints on the rifle.  Karam explains that these were caused by a previous hunting expedition and had nothing to do with the murders.
  8. The bruise on David's head, which was consistent with a blow to the head which might have dislodged the glasses.  This was explained away as being caused by fainting and hitting his head against a piece of furniture after the police arrived and put him under surveillance.

On the basis of the above innocent explanations and many others, Karam claims that there is no forensic evidence linking David to the murders. He fails to admit that there is no forensic evidence linking Robin to the murders either.  Such as:

  1. No items belonging to Robin were found in the middle of the murder scene, apart from himself.
  2. The only blood on Robin's clothes belonged to him
  3. Despite the killer clearly having fought with Stephen in a bloody struggle, no blood belonging to Stephen was found on Robin.
  4. Robin's fingerprints were not identified on the gun.

While this new revelation creates a circumstantial link between Robin and the murder weapon, it still has to be balanced up against the mountain of evidence that still exists that points to David.  The problem is that no one is getting out there to persuade the public. Science and the truth should never be conducted as a spin and marketing exercise which is what the Bain case has become.


Kent I accept your comments


I accept your comments on the overwhelming case against David and Karam's penchant for dismissing any evidence that does not suit his cause.

However this magazine mark evidence on Robin's right thumb is very hard to explain away. I find it convincing and cannot easily imagine an innocent explanation. I don't think it is reasonable to suggest the marks were caused by roof repairs etc the previous day. The forensic scientist was credible and he believed the marks came from the magazine.

I have been racking my brain trying to imagine a scenario whereby Robin could have obtained these marks and I must confess I cannot think of any other than the obvious explanation.  I find this "new" evidence convincing and the implications disturbing.

We should try to remain impartial when assessing evidence.


I think the marks were put there on purpose by David. When reloading the mags when hunting he knew he got marks on his thumb so swiped the mag over Robin's thumb hoping to leave similar marks. then placed the mag down in the unlikely position near Robin's hand standing on it's edge. These murders were planned with a lot of thought going into them and it was another attempt to incriminate his father, and it was a clever attempt but he inadvertantly swiped the mag over his finger as well and these marks all line up.  

 Ok 3rd Degree you think you

 Ok 3rd Degree you think you have finally got some evidence that links Robin as the killer, but what about statements given under oath for the Thorp Report by Davids once lawyer Michael Guest? Guest says David “at pre-trial discussions” told himself and his Co-Council Jonelle Williams that he had been wearing his Mothers glasses on the Sunday evening before the murders "in the early hours of the following Monday morning". Michael Guest immediately notified crown prosecutor Bill Wright of this startling admission from David Bain, but David stood up in court and lied under oath and said he had not worn the glasses for a year before the murders.

The bloody fingerprints from

The bloody fingerprints from David found on the murder weapon with no prints found from Robin is far more compelling to me than some marks that could be something or could also be nothing.

Charles, you've just watched a TV documentary by a known DB...


It was one sided, Don't you agree?

The entire  program hinged its support for Robin being the killer based on this single, circumstantial, evidence.

Please *do* weigh it up with the other evidence.  There is still considerable  circumstantial evidence against David Bain. 

This is possibly the first and only circumstantial evidence against Robin Bain.

It was definitely one-sided

It was definitely one-sided and when attempting to replicate those marks each person was pressing pretty hard.  If you look at the photo oon your site and compare the one that they are using there is a wider gap between the thumb and the cartridge than in your photo and the angle of the thumb is slightly different in that the thumb nail isn't showing in your photo but it is in the TV3 photo.  Were there a number of different photos taken?  Also on the site there is a photo of Robin Bain which shows his hand but the tip of the foreginger isn't touching the thumb as in the photo on your site and the TV3 photos.  I find that surprising. 

Charles, I think you are

Charles, I think you are allowing yourself to be persuaded.  That is how Karam operates.  He doesn't convince through logical reasoning and empirical evidence.  He uses powerful persuasive techniques and emotional hooks.  While there were no emotional hooks in this particular documentary, there were plenty of persuasive techniques. 

That picture is strange, because in it, the magazine is standing on its edge.  There you have a very remarkable incident.  How did the magazine get to be on its edge?  What other weird stuff went on in that murder scene?



For someone who is reloading in a hurry, and is in the process of killing his family these lines are very slight and straight. Would he not be shaking as surely his adrenaline is pumping. Maybe he only loaded one round? However if he has had to reload more than one round I would have thought from my own experience that there would have been more smudging and a lot more residue. The other marks in the other pictures are much more pronounced than Robin's and these were done in a controlled environment without the same pressure and without the same adrenaline pumping through their bodies. Picture yourself being nervous or in a rush while you load rounds into a magazine what is the likelihood that every round you load makes a mark in the exact position every time. I am still not convinced it was Robin but can understand why others would be more convinced. Remember this is only one part of the evidence!

Seems a convenient time for

Seems a convenient time for this to "surface", I understnd the judcial review is mid July [I'm likey wrong] My grouch is the magazine 'loaders' shown had the parallel lines but they were smeared and feathered edges while those marks on Robins hands were clear and no smearing, most strange methinks. The shorter line on Robin appeared to me to have a very dark spot in the middle and different colour and was a bit closer at one end than the other to the 'Controls' I think Melanie Reid was showing her support as she has done previously and for the life of me I cannot understand why a man would enlarge only the tips of the thumb and forefinger to look at them for not reason or am I being a bit cynical. Did some one know the marks would be there. All in all very poor and totally unbalanced piece TV3

I agree if you look at the

I agree if you look at the full photo of the hand on this site he has a lot of lines on his hands and these marks appear to be just normal lines on his hand more red than black and also on the Herald site they have comparison and none look like the marks on Robin's thumb.

I agree if you look at the

I agree if you look at the full photo of the hand on this site he has a lot of lines on his hands and these marks appear to be just normal lines on his hand more red than black and also on the Herald site they have comparison and none look like the marks on Robin's thumb. Also Karam is from the Waikato as is the guy who "discovered" the photo - it will come out if there are any links between the two.  Also the forensic person didn't agree 100% you'll notice.

The marks

I saw these marks and I felt I'd seen such marks on my own hands many times from a number of causes other than cartridges and cartridge cases.  And yes, working on guttering would do it.  It appeared to me that the analogy used concerning the "I killed the bugger" on the recording applies equally here.  It is like seeing faces in the clouds.  If you believe that Bain is innocent then this "slam dunk" evidence will convince you.  It does not convince me.  It is another face in the clouds.  And we should not forget the history of this thing and that it was TV3 that ran this story.  That was the channel that first broke the Cottle evidence story to the public and this channel has always shown an enthusiasm to run stories like this from Karam and Co.

and a reply to me from me,

and a reply to me from me, looking at the picture in Kent's post above the longer line closer to the ball of the hand has red lines narrowing and ending toward the middle of the line and on both sides of the line wipes from a magazine don't leave those on the other line shown in the multi part advertisement.  

The marks (2)

Were close up photos taken of Robin's hands or is the evidence presented by Melanie Reid based upon a super enlargement from the photograph of Robin lying on the floor>  Does anyone know?  I would think it could be misleading, if the later.  It is ironic that in David and Goliath Joe Karam derides a conviction that is based on many pieces of circumstantial evidence.  However he wants us to get all excited over a single piece of circumstantial evidence that he believes acquits David Bain and calls this a "slam dunk".  Having read Karam, I get the impression that he fancies himself as one of TVs super sleuths and like them expects to solve the crime with a single piece of evidence.  It was supposed to be the timing of the computer switch on but that did not work,  So then it was the glasses, but another failure.  Now its these marks.  As for Melanie reid she's a total Karamite.  She was I believe the journalist who broke the story of the supressed Cottle evidence.  Media works is in financial difficulties and may need to boost ratings. 

Bushlawyer, see my latest

Bushlawyer, see my latest blog post.  This is the first piece of circumstantial evidence they have against Robin that consists of something in the murder scene.  If we should interpret this as being connected to the murders then we also should interpret a whole lot of other circumstantial evidence in the same light.  It has to go both ways.  The Bain defence cannot just have their interpretation for Robin and not for David.

The marks (2)

Repeat comment of previous.

3rd Degree

3rd degree made much of the fact that cartridge marks rub off very easily.  David's defence team say Robin got changed into clean clothers before he was shot- how would the marks not have rubbed off if made by a cartridge case during the getting undressed and dressed again?  He must have reloaded before getting changed, not after.  Perhaps David did stage this.  Personally I thought the marks looked quite different to those on the test firers on the show.

changing clothes

A great point Freegate.  I presumed he showered when he changed his clothes too r at least washed his hand before he met his maker.

Try to remain objective.

This is a very powerful piece of evidence incriminating Robin. No one can reasonably disagree with this.

If the marks are indeed gunpowder residue from loading the magazine, then Robin would have handled the magazine moments before his death - otherwise they would have disappeared rapidly.  

Regarding Robin's possible suicide, the Police said Robin could not have operated the trigger unless he used the magazine to extend his reach. As the magazine was found in the unlikely "balanced on edge" position, the Police reasonably deduced that Robin could not have committed suicide.  This suggestion by the Police always struck me as suspect - especially as it has been demonstrated that Robin could have easily reached the trigger depending on how he held the rifle.

The more likely explanation is that the magazine was placed on its edge by either R or D.  If david did place it, then how did Robin obtain the marks on his thumb? To suggest that David rubbed the magazine against his father's hand post mortem would be drawing a very long bow indeed.

We should be very careful about dismissing this new finding.  The marks have been there in the photographs all along. I remember seeing them several years ago but the implications never dawned on me.  This is no "sleight of hand" evidence. It has been in front of us for years.

I will admit that I am deeply troubled by this turn of events.  I cannot find a reasonable explanation other than the obvious. I would certainly appreciate an in depth analysis of the marks by a competent forensic scientist --- but we appear to have had such an opinion on the TV3 programme.

This to me is extraordinary circumstantial evidence.  It cannot be denied and if we dismiss it lightly, then we are guilty of the same subjective analysis of evidence that we accuse Karam of.

Dr Dempster

What I would like to know is what Dr Dempster thought made those marks,presuming he noticed them, Also, if he did see them how old did he think they were?
I agree with Charles to some degree. While this "new" evidence hasn't caused me to change my mind we do need someone like Dr Dempster to give us an alternative explanation for them.
I still don't believe Robin Bain would have placed that magazine on it's edge when he could just have dropped it on to the floor,or alternatively just placed it on that table. Nor do I believe it would have remained upright when his hand ended up so close to it. I am pretty sure it would have fallen over when he fell down,if it was upright before he fell.

Mike -- I don't think the

Mike -- I don't think the marks would have survived long if they were gun powder residue. Dr Dempster would have had to assess them at the house and it would appear he did not note them or if he did, was not aware of their significance. Otherwise we would have heard about this long before now!

I have been turning this over in my mind all night and I simply cannot rationalize this vital evidence. This whole murder scene was bizarre and this is simply one more confounding piece of evidence. 

just part of the setup

There were 4 things that were aimed at incriminating Robin, 1 the typed computer message, 2 the rifle nearby, 3 the magazine nearby and 4 the small marks on his thumb and finger, all set up by someone else  to point the finger at Robin. If Robin had really reloaded the magazines himself there would have been quite a number of these marks for each bullet reloaded in David's bedroom where the store of bullets was located, but no, there were only one set of marks. These marks would have worn off carrying the rifle, carrying the spare magazine as well, typing on the computer, moving to the lounge carrying the rifle again and setting up for another shot. Clearly another set up.   

Herald photos

Gun powder residue

I have never had a problem with gunpowder residue being found on Robin Bain's hands because his hands[ although more likely his left hand ] could have got gunpowder residue on them when he was shot.
What I would like to know is if Dr Dempster saw those marks because if he did they wouldn't have have been gunpowder residue.

He did not change his clothes

He did not change his clothes he took off a layer - which DB washed.

New Evidence

The only thing that matters currently is this supposed 'new evidence'. All the other older evidence has been in the public arena for years, and people have firm opinions one way or the other. This new evidence is disturbing, not because it changes my opinion, but because it has the ability to sway public opinion.

The first thing that needs to happen is to determine the likelihood of these marks being made by the cartridge. 3rd Degree set out to prove a point, therefore the program was always going to lack balance by failing to seek an alternate theory.

What is now needed is the opinion of a forensic photographer or such like, who is able to either confirm or counter the claim that these marks were made by the cartridge. With computer analysis of the photo it should be able to be done. Banging on about any other past evidence is completely missing the point at the moment. This is the 'evidence' of the day, and should be the focus of the day...anything else is a misguided distraction. Get to work if you're able and find someone able to study the photograph in detail, not just a blown up image as was used last night.

PCA Report para 139

Positive GSR on either Robin or David would not have solved the crime beyond doubt.
At best it could have indicated contact with the rifle but not responsibility for firing it. David could claim he touched the rifle as he has done to explain his fingerprints on it.
GSR on Robin's hands would not exclude the possibility it was transferred from David if he moved his father's hands to make it look like suicide.

Evidence in Context

The evidence needs to be looked at in the correct context. Firstly let’s assume for a moment the marks are what they are claimed to be. What does it prove? It proves Robin Bain handled the magazine. But was the handling of the magazine taking place in the context of the murder of his family? One scenario is that the magazine was left lying on the floor and discovered by Robin Bain. He saw it there and picked it up. He automatically thumbs the magazine to clarify in his mind the security of the bullets it contains.

This accounts for the fact the marks look so singular and clear cut. Are they the marks of a man frantically reloading after a gun jam in the middle of a spree murder? Would his hands have been sweaty with the tension of the moment and the physical exertion of fighting Stephen Bain?  If so would not the marks be more blurry and show some variation? This is not evidence in the real sense in my opinion. If it was coupled with evidence that actually links Robin Bain to the gun then yes. But no there is no physical evidence linking Robin Bain to the gun which to my mind is extremely relevant. 

Kent on TV

just saw the news on TV1 with you on it Kent. Came across very well and I feel the marks on Robin's thumb are well defined and could well be cuts like you said.  I see that when reloading of bullets is done into a magazine, the lines are more blurred and likely to be a series of lines with more bullets being added, not just two lines that are as well defined as those shown  on the 3rd Degree programme. Well done anyway.

Yes great on TV

Yes yyou were great on TV, Kent.

  • Joe Karam: David is not Innocent

    From the Herald in 2000, Karam said:

    I'm not anti-police. I'm quite a redneck on matters of crime and punishment. I have absolutely no problem with cops in general. I didn't think David was innocent but I did think that his conviction was extraordinarily unsafe. And when I got the bum's rush from them on it, I thought something was up.