David Bain wore the glasses that were found broken in his room during the weekend prior to the murders. These glasses were a controversial element of the evidence because they fit the scenario that they were broken as a result of the murderer taking part in a life and death struggle with Stephen. This conclusion was made based on the fact that a lense was found on the floor in Stephen's room and the remaining broken frame and lense found on a chair in David's room. These glasses provide compelling evidence that David was the murderer and became a central focus of the evidence.
1. Joe Karam in his books and publications repeatedly states that the glasses, belonging to David Bain’s mother, that were found in a compromising state in the murder scene were of no use to David. Emphasis is mine.
1.1. David & Goliath p111: “David for his part maintained that in his evidence that he had not had anything to do with this pair of spectacles...”
1.2. David & Goliath p111: “he stated they were his mother’s old glasses, and although one of the lenses was a help to his sight, the other was of a totally unsuitable strength because his mother had astigmatism in one eye, and so the glasses were of no use to him anyway.”
1.3. David & Goliath p114 Karam says the pair of glasses at the centre of the murder investigation “David was prematurely arrested , imagine the difference in the police positioning had they already known on the Friday morning that these glasses were previously his mothers and were of no use to him, and that he had not been wearing glasses for the previous three days ”.
Further to the above, Karam repeatedly states that he was not seen wearing them during the weekend before the murders:
1.4. David & Goliath p112: “David did not wear glasses for the three days prior to the discovery of the murders.”
1.5. David & Goliath p116: “The fact is that David did not wear them anywhere he went on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and this fact, despite being attested to by the statements in the police file of Saunders, Jenkins and Wallace that I quoted earlier, was ever heard by the jury.”
1.6. David & Goliath p208: “They [the jury] heard nothing of the evidence that David had not been wearing glasses for the three days before the murders while his own were being repaired.”
1.7. Bain and Beyond p121: “there is no evidence that David wore those glasses that weekend and there is evidence that he was not wearing any glasses that weekend.”
1.8. Bain and Beyond p121: “Evidence not called at trial that David was not wearing any glasses in the days leading up to the killings (his own were broken and at the optometrist). He would hardly have needed his mother’s old glasses to effect these killings in the dark.
1.9. In Horrible details still haunt extended family: “For if the Crown says that David was wearing the broken glasses until two days before the murders, then that is wrong. David was not wearing glasses on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday before the murders after his were broken on the Thursday evening.”
2. In his own testimony in 1995 David Bain admitted that he sometimes used the glasses when his own weren't available and at the time of the murders his own glasses were at the optometrist being fixed after they were broken:
"On occasions in the past I have worn my mother’s glasses if my glasses were not available, but only for watching TV programmes, basically that is it or going to lectures. I couldn’t wear them for extended periods, she had a stigmatism so it was a strain to wear those glasses."
3. On the morning of the murders, David Bain asked the police officer who was watching over him for his glasses. This resulted in the officer Van Turnhout going into David's room and picking up the glasses, before realising that, not only were they broken, but also this was a murder scene and the glasses were evidence. He then replaced the glasses where they were.
4. Michael Guest, David’s original counsel stated that David was prepared to testify that he was wearing the glasses, before he suddenly changed his mind prior to the 1995 trial, an incident that caused some drama for Mr Guest Following are paragraphs 283 and 284 of the Application for Royal Prerogative of Mercy of 2000:
283. One further point should be noted at this stage. According to written and oral submissions made by both Mr Guest and Mr Wright to officials, Mr Guest told Mr Wright that the glasses were Mrs Bain’s but the petitioner would admit wearing them during the weekend immediately prior to the murders. In his evidence-in-chief at trial, however, the petitioner denied that he had been wearing the spectacles, either in the weekend prior to the murders or for a year previously:
In my room was found a pair of lenses frames, one lens beside them. They were not my glasses. They were my mother’s older glasses that she used on occasion. I know of the evidence of the optometrist there is a dispute with my evidence as to whether those glasses were mine or someone else’s. I have no doubt they were my mother’s glasses, yes. On occasions in the past I have worn my mother’s glasses if my glasses were not available, but only for watching tv programmes, basically that is it or going to lectures. I couldn’t wear them for extended periods. She had astigmatism so it was a strain to wear those glasses. I don’t know how those glasses came to be in my room. I accept the description of police officers that the house at Every St was very untidy. As to how those glasses might have got into my room, I have no explanation. I hadn’t used them or seen them that weekend or at least a year previous. I hadn’t needed them. So unless my mother put them in my room because she had obviously - no, I don’t know.
284. Our understanding is that the petitioner’s evidence came as a surprise to both parties. It was the subject of some discussion between the lawyers concerned. The Crown Solicitor, Mr Wright, dealt with the issue by putting the use and the ownership of the spectacles squarely to the petitioner in cross-examination. It may be desirable to reproduce this aspect of the trial transcript in full:
The pair of glasses which you have produced to the court have a saxon frame. Yes. You say they are not yours but they are an older pair of your mothers. That’s right. The opthalmologist, Mr Sanderson, from the hospital was of the opinion that they were an earlier prescription of your existing optometry prescription. That is incorrect one of these lenses I would not be able to see out of clearly to give me full vision … The opthalmologist was of the opinion that the prescription of the two lenses that fitted the frame are similar to the prescription prescribed for you in October 1992. Do you recollect him giving that evidence. I do, that is only in one lens though, not the other …Were those glasses of assistance to you. Yes for watching tv, and for going to lectures but I couldn’t wear them for extended periods. Did you have lectures on Friday 17 June. As far as I can remember, yes I did. Did you wear glasses at that lecture. No, no. I had forgotten about these glasses here, the ones exhibited because I only used them rarely and hadn’t thought of getting them for the classes. You have referred in your evidence to watching a video on tv over the weekend. That is correct, yes. Did you use those glasses for that purpose. No I hadn’t even thought of using them. Where were these glasses kept to your knowledge. In Mum’s room. In one of her drawers I suppose. I don’t know exactly where … Were you aware the spectacle frames were in your room on the morning of 20 June. No I wasn’t. Were you aware that the spectacle frames have apparently been damaged. I am aware now of that, yes. Were you aware of that on or prior to 20 June. No I wasn’t. Were you aware that one of the lenses apparently cannot now be fitted to the frame because of damage to the frame. I am aware of that now, yes. Would the glasses have been any use to you, the frames, without the lenses in them. I wouldn’t have seen a reason for wearing them. Were the glasses in your room, the frame and the lens, in your room on Sunday night. No. Can you account for their presence as found in your room by the Police on the Monday morning. No I cannot account for that.
Joe Karam claims that he studied the evidence in the Bain case in some detail before publishing David and Goliath. It hardly seems likely that he missed reading what David said about the glasses in his 1995 testimony, nor does it seem likely that Guest would have omitted to tell him of the incident involving David's sudden change of testimony about wearing them that weekend. Karam's claim that David did not wear the glasses during the weekend prior to the murders is based on the lack of people seeing him wearing them. The most accurate assertion he makes is that "there is no evidence that David wore those glasses that weekend". It is quite possible that the only people who saw him wearing those glasses are now dead.
At the 2009 retrial and afterwards, there have been various other confirmations of David Bain's occasional use of the glasses, and even testimony that he wore them the weekend prior to the murders and further reiteration of the incident involving Michael Guest and the changing testimony.
5. In the 2009 retrial David's aunt, Jan Clark, testified that David admitted to wearing his glasses during the weekend prior to the murders. Jan and her husband took David in after the murders and looked after him until he was incarcerated. Jan continued to visit David in prison for some time, hand washing his woollen jerseys for him, but ultimately she and her husband testified against him which resulted in and end to the relationship. (Q = counsel; A = Jan Clark):
Q. At some stage around this time was there a discussion about glasses?
A. Yes, later, after David got up and had some breakfast we were then sitting in the lounge, David, Heidi and myself and David sort of rubbed his eyes like that, you know, and I said, “Oh are your eyes troubling you dear?”
Q. When you say rubbing his eyes, you're –
A. Yes it was a sort of a movement like that, just as though his eyes were troubling him. And I said, “Are your eyes troubling you dear?” And he said, “Yes they are a bit I really need my glasses.” And I went to get up to go and get them saying you know, “Where are they?” And he explained that his own glasses had been broken the previous Thursday when he was leaving his music lesson and I asked him how he had been managing in the mean time and he said he had been wearing an old pair of Margaret’s glasses. I –
Q. Just on that, did he indicate how much assistance or lack of assistance they gave?
A. Yes, yes, he said, they, well they weren't perfect, they got him by, yes. And then he said that his own glasses would however be ready at the opticians on the Thursday and could we perhaps organise to have those collected. And so I called Bob in, he was in the interconnecting room and related what David had said to him and they then talked about where, which optician, I think it was Caithness Opticians and Bob subsequently organised to get those for him.
Q. Had you been wearing an old pair of Margaret’s glasses at any point since the Thursday, I think it was, when you took your glasses in to be fixed?
A. No. I hadn’t thought of them, seen them, worn them, let alone wear those glasses at any time after that.
Q. Did you know where they were?
A. I had an idea of where they were, yes . But that's , again, benefit of hindsight.
Q. And I understand they were kept in Margaret's room?
A. They were, in one of her drawers. I couldn't be more specific than that.
Q . And was it understood that you were free to help yourself to use them whenever a need arose?
A. If I needed them, I would ask her. I would ask my mother for them but the - as I say, the , the last time - oh, sorry, I hadn't even thought to use them that particular weekend . Um, the last time I ever thought of using them was months before . I can't be any more specific.
Q. Now I understand that according to Dr Sanderson's evidence , the one lens would give you 90% of normal vision but the other level was adjusted for a condition that your mother had -
A. Astigmatism .
Q . - which you did not share and therefore it was somewhat difficult for you to wear them -
Q. - for any length of time. Can you just explain what you meant by that discussion in the evidence?
A. Ah , well , the 90% improvement was really just for one eye. Um , the other eye, because she suffered astigmatism, and I can't be certain now which particular eye it was, meant that I couldn't see anything. In fact, it gave me a headache to see out of that particular eye through that lens and so I would generally sit with my fingers over my, over that particular eye so that - to stop that from happening so I could only, as I say there was a partial improvement and only enough to see a black board at the lecture or if I wanted to watch , you know, TV from you know - at the back of the lounge. But in genera l, I didn't really need them .
Q. The lounge or the living room?
A. Ah , okay sorry - the livi - we refer to the living room as the , the TV room at the far end of the house just near where my mother was .
Q. Mmm .
A. Our lounge was the front room -
“My concern is that neither myself nor my co-Counsel were interviewed by the Canadian Judge despite the Bain team suspending privilege for the purposes of the Police Complaints Authority Investigation in 1997. I told that Investigation (relieved from the obligation of privilege) that Mr Bain has informed both myself and my co-Counsel that he had been wearing the all-important glasses on the Sunday evening before the 6.30 am murders the next morning.
That was a devastating admission and we took all possible steps within our ethical duties to minimise the possibility of that information coming out at trial. However, in response to a question from the Crown, Mr Bain specifically lied about wearing the glasses the night before the killings and the ethics of my profession required me to disclose that lie to the prosecution which I immediately did. Mr W.J. Wright, for the Crown, decided that due to the fact that we were in the closing three days of an almost three week trial, we would simply let matters lie and proceed.”
Q. Did you make any observation regarding any deposits on the lens and the frames?
A. Yes there was quite a bit of what I called verdigris, it's a sort of a product of tarnishing of various metals, I think mainly copper which produces a sort of greenish tinge on tarnished metal there is quite a lot of it still evident round here and I compared the stains on the frame, because it's not tarnished all the way round with the stains on the lenses and the two matched up quite effectively, so it was possible to say that the lens from this eye had been recently in this frame and the lens from the other eye had been recently in this side of the frame, so the verdigris matched on both sides, which suggest that the lenses had originally come from this frame.
Q. So what was your overall conclusion in terms of the lenses and the frames?
A. That these lenses belong to this frame.
Q. Now you have spoken about the damage to the frames, what sort of force would be required to create the damage?
A. Well as well as their relative fragility, with the lens in place it would require quite a lot of force, I would call it compression force, any sort of twisting force would probably not result in this sort of effect that we see here. It would need to be pressed against a soft surface in order to release the lens without damaging the lens in so doing.
Q. What sort of thing would do that?
A. Well pressure against a carpet or a mattress or something of that nature, quite a decent pressure, because the lens and the frame combined are quite a strong structure, individually they are quite fragile, but combined they are quite a strong structure so to remove one from the other without obviously undoing the screw, would require quite a specific type of force which wouldn’t – which would – it would have to be relatively soft and yet powerful enough to displace the lens.
Q. Having regard to the condition of the frames could they be worn successfully in the state that they are in?
A. Oh, no, no, they are quite badly bent there is no way you could wear those, they’d be twisted out of all proportion.
- It is clear from his own testimony that David Bain did use the glasses when his own were not available and therefore Karam’s assertion that David had no use for them is incorrect.
- Karam also claims that the frames were not badly damaged, page 111 of David and Goliath: “It seemed even more ludicrous, when considering the police theory that David was the killer, that the spectacles were dislodged in the struggle with Stephen, that somehow with minimal damage to the frame both lenses were dislocated from the frame..” From Sanderson’s evidence it is clear that they were more than minimally damaged and the damage was sufficient to expel the lenses and render the frame useless.
- The only simple explanation for the existence of the broken glasses, which were normally kept in Margaret's (the mother's) bedside drawer, is that they were broken while David was wearing them in a fight to the death with his brother Stephen.