Robin Bain was not Evicted from the House

Initially at Every St, when there were ructions in the marriage, Margaret chose to sleep in the caravan, but after a time she swapped places with Robin.  This may have coincided with when Robin got the job of principal at Taieri Mouth School and was no longer resident at Every St during the week, so it made sense for Margaret to use the bedroom and Robin to use the caravan, to sleep in.

Joe Karam argues that because Robin slept in the caravan then he qualifies as being "evicted from the house".  This is far from true.  From what we know, Robin carried out all household activities within the house, including, as is very clear from the evidence, using the house to pray in. Hundreds, maybe thousands of people around the countryside provide extra accommodation in a similar way for their families by parking up a caravan or turning a garage into a basic sleepout.

Further to this when the Taieri school house became available, Robin continued to stay in his old Commer van during the week, passing up perfectly good state funded accommodation in so doing.  We can only speculate on his reasons for doing this.  Maybe he wanted to leave as small a footprint as possible on the planet, or maybe he wanted to avoid the likelihood of the house becoming a burden on his simple routine, or maybe he just liked the sound of birds in the morning, we will never know.  All we do know is that it was Robin's habit to prefer living in temporary accommodation.

Finally, it is quite common for a couple of Robin and Margaret's age to sleep in separate beds.  If Robin had not been so partial to temporary accommodation then maybe the family might have made one of the two living rooms available for him, but that is not what happened.

There is no clear evidence as to what the state of Robin and Margaret's marriage was although there are many stories of how Margaret referred to Robin as 'Belial' (or Satan) and this is taken as clear evidence of dischord.  On the one hand they had plans drawn up for a house they were building together while on the other there was talk of Margaret moving out into a separate dwelling with Stephen, but that may have just been a plan for a temporary arrangement once the house was pulled down and before the new one could be built.  In our very liberal age we forget that not long ago a couple were encouraged to stay together through thick and thin, and even while mouthing off at each other, the bond that holds a couple together is ultimately stronger than the words that threaten to pull them apart.  In his sincere Christian belief, Robin may well have been of that ilk. 

Given the state of Margaret's strange beliefs, her sedentary lifestyle and her material dependence on Robin, Robin's situation could be compared to that of someone living with someone with a difficult psychological disorder.  Anyone who has watched their loved one slowly being taken over by a degenerative psychological condition can find it both stressful and conflicting.  The desire to leave the family home in response to Margaret's rejection of him would have been counter-balanced by his desire to remain with his children and the knowledge that Margaret had no means of providing for them.  It is also possible that Margaret's attitude towards him went in cycles, a behaviour common in many psychological conditions, and that she spent as much time being caring and loving towards him as she did reviling him. As with caregivers of sufferers of any condition where sufferers display annoying and inappropriate behaviour, Margaret's taunts may have had a meaning to Robin, in respect of his relationship to her, that was quite different to that interpreted by other observers.

Ultimately the state of Robin's relationship with his wife and his family is likely to have been complex and multi-layered and no simple conclusions should be drawn.

Margaret and Robin were in the process of resolving their differences

No family in our society is completely free of dysfunction.  Most families have at least one family member for whom some psychological dysfunction represents a challenge that requires extra effort to overcome, whether it is something as simple as dyslexia or something more complex such as anorexia or depression.  In many respects, the Bain family was very functional, they were close knit and lived together as a unit with a father who was always able to provide for them materially.  The eldest daughter was head of school and was studying to be a teacher like her father.  It is very easy, on the basis of the condition of the house they lived in and the very tragic way in which the family met their demise, to label them as the most dysfunctional family in NZ, but the truth is that they were probably only about average. Robin, Arawa and Stephen were probably above average functionality.  Meanwhile Margaret, David and Laniet were probably less than average functionality.  In my biological family there was at least as much dysfunction as there was in the Bain family, it's just that we lived in a tidy house.  Certainly none of my siblings was ever a contender for head of school.

Update: In David Bain's interview with Justice Binnie he confirms that Robin was indeed very much part of the household.  From the interview, page 46 (Q refers to Binnie, A to David):

Q. Now when you spoke to the police, you said you went in search of your father and the question is why you'd look for your father in the lounge?

A. Ah, again I can only give you what I made in my, in the statements and, and in evidence and so on and that was really his influence, he was most concentrated, he spent a lot of time in that room either working on the computer or praying or, you know, discussing things with visitors that he might have had.

Q . Well, I think it's this idea that, that it's the room where he had exerted the most influence?

A. Yes.

Q. I understand from that but because he was living in this van, that that was the room within the house that he did whatever he had to do.

A. Mmm.

Q. Is that what -

A. Yes that's correct.

Q. It's an odd way of putting it, this is a room where his influence was focused -

A. Oh he was just -

Q. Can we kind of get at what you mean by that?

A. Well, it was the room where he could be away from Mum and still, I guess go about his business that he would do and in the household without her being overbearing or beating him down and telling him off or, you know, the various things that she -

Q. It's a bit of a sanctuary?

A. Well, for him it was. And it was, it was deemed that for, for all of us as well that if we were to have, um - 'cos we, we kept that room cleaner and tidier and - all the rest, than the rest of the house in order that if we did have, you know, visitors that was when have the, you know, a cup of coffee with them and you know, chat with them . Formal, a formal room so to speak.

Q . Rather than the living room where the television was located?

A. Yes, yeah.


In Mask of Sanity,McNeish writes"When she came on a visit to Dunedin in 1991 Barbara Neasmith said she was shocked by what she found.Robin was sleeping in the caravan,barely tolerated in the house.

In another chapter McNeish writes,"We all assumed he went home nights"says Dorothy Duthie,then Taieri School board chairman."We had offered him the schoolhouse,but it was more than he needed ,he said.He turned it down."

I remember one post[from Napelia,I believe]where she mentioned that Robin had purchased timber for a new house,and that it was being stored at a neighbours place.Thereagain,others were to say the new house was only a pipe dream.

So you have stories that run both ways.  He was "barely tolerated in the house", yet he still lived in it.  That's not the same as being evicted.  When you are evicted you are not living in it at all.  I'm sure the children still wanted him in the house, even if Margaret didn't and they are still eligible residents of the house.  It all depends on how you want to spin it.

I don't think David wanted him in the house.And Arawa is reported to have said that she wished her father would go.So ,dare I say it ,Kent,but you are making an assumption when you say the children still wanted him in the house.

Drat, I was trying to look at the evidence, but now you are bringing up all these reports about family members saying that he wasn't wanted in the house.  To me someone living on the property, using the living room to pray in and presumably the toilet and the kitchen, is not someone who has been evicted from the house, in the true meaning of the word.  In making this argument I am not making assumptions, I am undoing incorrect representations about Robin's status regarding the household.  In that respect I stand by what I have said.  You yourself may be a little more taken in by the spin than you realise.

I sat and spoke face to face with a close relative of Robins who told me sure they were having a differcult time but were working through it. He was not evicted. Thats what karam wants people to think. He came up with the "evicted" bullshit. They just had different sleeping arrangements.Big deal!!

I think Margaret must of been for anyone a trying person to live with with  and I think McNeish conveys this with her exotic and wacky beliefs.Imagine staying in bed most days and  trying to run the family from there.Shopping decisions based on a swinging pendant and a belief system more in line with  the occult than her previous christian ones.I would say she was rather delusional and a little paranoid but we simply don't know enough detail. Karam most certainly doesn't.More relevant is the way,as McNeish observed , how patterns of family dysfunction of the kind Margaret  exhibited  affected David.

Kent,I honestly don't know what to make of the Bain family set-up.One person says one thing,one person says another.But one would have to agree they were unusual.Robin appears to have been a good teacher.Arawa was dux at her school.

But I look at both sides of the argument.The word dysfunctional has been used to descibe the Bain family,and I would agree with that.

Look,I agree with nearly all the blogs you have written.And I agree that saying Robin Bain was evicted is an overstatement.

But they were not a very happy family,and I do think Robin has to take some of the blame.

I joined this group because I know Robin Bain didn't murder his family.But I am not sure about his status regarding the household,and I wouldn't being arguing that he had any.

Firstly, Arawa was head girl, she was not dux.  You have been listening to too much Karam.  He said in the K-L debate that she was dux and now you are saying the same.  Head girl and dux are two different things.  Head girl is a leadership position given to someone with self-confidence, responsibility and speaking skills.  Dux is the top student.  Given Arawa's family situation, it is quite remarkable that she became head girl, but then it may be that the Bain family was a lot more functional than is made out.

All families have a certain level of dysfunction.  I could write a novel about the dysfunction in our family.  Having dysfunctional parents is no excuse for killing them though.

Another thought I had regarding Robin and Margaret's relationship is that it is evident that Margaret was quite dysfunctional in that she was not employable and stayed in bed half the day while at the same time cursing her husband, calling him 'Belial'.  Meanwhile Robin was quite functional in that he was working full time and materially supporting the whole family.  For one, this hardly comprises being 'evicted'.  But also it raises the possibility that Robin, quite rightly, saw Margaret as a dependent with a functional deficit, for whom he was materially responsible.  While she may have mouthed off at him, Robin may have simply seen this as a symptom of her sickness in the same way that you would tolerate a family member with Alzheimers or Touret's Syndrome.  It is quite clear that Robin did not have the skills to deal with his wife's problems let alone his eldest son's and maybe he hoped that simply praying would resolve everything.  Obviously it didn't.

OK,I hadn't rechecked my notes before saying Arawa was dux.I always do that before posting on Trade Me,but I didn't for my earlier post this morning on counterspin.But the point I was making is that Arawa appears to have been an achiever.But she did tell that witness that she wished her father would leave home.

And I have to say that I don't believe my family is at all disfunctional.Mind you,I am biased.None of us have any problems.The children all went through school without any problems.Nobody is brilliant,though one son does have a degree.No smokers,none of us ever has.Nobody has a liquor cabinet.We are not teetotal,but near as dammit.I have had a couple of traffic fines,but that was over 50 years ago.

I couldn't believe the state of the Bain house when I saw the photos.We have never left clothes lying around,or anything else,for that matter.And I am what you could call laid back,so I have never been strict.I am not that sort of person.I just go with the flow.But I would never have let the rooms inside my[our] house get into the state the Bain's were.I know it was an old ,dilapidated house,but that is no reason for the childrens rooms to be in that state.

But Robin was untidy.And,even though he was a good teacher,he didn't like doing the paperwork.

But you are right about Robin not having the skills to deal with his wife's problems.Had it been me ,I would have gone for a divorce.Nor could he deal with David.If I had heard that one of my son's was threatening other members of the family with a rifle,that rifle would be confiscated,pdq.But I am assuming Robin did know,he may not have known.Arawa[or anyone else]may not have told him.

And maybe Robin did hope that praying to a god might do the trick.Well,that was never going to work,was it?

When I was a kid, we lived next door to some neighbours whose house was a real mess.  They were farmers.  The homestead was always a shambles, stuff everywhere.  The office was full of papers all over the place.  In the bedrooms, the kids wanted the beds up against the wardrobe so they cut the wardrobe doors in half, so the tops could still open.  They had a shearers quarters which fell into disuse and they just let it go to the chooks.

Some people are untidy.  Untidy does not equal dysfunctional. No one ever considered our former neighbours to be dysfunctional, mind you that word has only recently become into common use.  If Robin didn't like paperwork that does not make him dysfunctional.  I can think of lots of people who don't like doing the paperwork.

Having said that, I think, in Margaret's case the untidyness was a dysfunction because, unlike Robin, she was not doing anything else of use.  The kids were mostly grown up and didn't need much mothering. She should have been keeping up with housework and maybe getting a part time job to fund the dream house she was planning.

Yes,some people are just untidy.I have known bosses where the tops of their desks were clear enough,but their drawers were overflowing.In fact there was one boss who everytime his drawer filled up he just emptied it in to the wpb,and started off afresh.

And Margaret had been capable,and she was working on the plans for a new house.But there again ,there was that pendulum.Shopping with it often drew curious stares,she was unable to make decisions as to what fruit to pick without it.One crazy lady.

In reply to by Mike Stockdale


In the BB doco Brian Bruce said Robin and Margaret had asked David to leave the family home in early June, if this is true it was probably the catalyst that resulted in there deaths, it shows that even though Robin and Margaret's relationship had great difficulties, they still were united on this issue of asking David to leave. And also I believe that they must have had a very good reason to ask him to go because as we know there was plenty of room for him in the large house, and he was very useful eg good at washing clothes etc.

I believe what Arawas friend' who said David had been intimidating the family with the rifle, and I also believe that this was probably why David was asked to leave the large family home, also at court in 2009 Davids auntie spoke about her sister Margaret who had one time talked to her about David bossing the other children in the family around, and she said she asked him not to do it, for her to mention this to her sister it must have been significant because the sister said Margaret was a very private person.

Yes,good point ,bob.And it may well have been the final straw.Actually,who was it told Bryan Bruce that?Did it come up at the retrial,do you know?Maybe they asked him to leave because he had been threatening the family.

In reply to by Mike Stockdale


Bold statement Mike re "Gone for a divorce". I dont think you would of myself. "Till death us do part" "In sickness and in health" etc. I believe Robin would of taken those vow's seriously and "stuck it out" in the hope that once the kids had left home things might improve. His wife did have problems as you say but all the more reason to stay and keep the family together. Robin was a good man and I dont believe divorce ever entered his head which would be of been abandonment.  Dont forget that it wasnt too long before this that they had been living a happy carefree life in PNG even though the kids may of been running wild. The problems seem to of started once they got back here and had to conform to a Dunedin way of life. Thinking about it, life in PNG for the family would of been a lot more fun and less stressful.

"disfunctional family"!!? You should of been brought up in the street I was!! If you were not accussed of being disfunctional you were not normal!! Being disfuntional all depends on which standard you use. Plenty of families could be discribed as being disfuntional and are much more disfuntional that the Bains were but survive to become good members of the community, its just this family had someone in the family that was seriously mentally deranged and decided to take his own course of action. Like the time when there was a family gathering and Stephen locked himself in the toilet. His uncle was talking through the door to him explaining how to open the door when along comes db and says "Out of the way, I know how to get him out" kicked the door in and caused a considereable amount of damage.

Yeah,hard to say,Vic,but I don't think I could have put up with a wife like that.I take your point about many families being "disfunctional",I just didn't see anything like that myself,though there were a couple of suicides by farmers near where I lived.

You have to have some way to measure 'dysfunctional'.  When a person seeks professional psychological help then that is often an indicaton that a dysfunction exists that a person feels a need to deal with.  In the Bain case, they probably actively rejected seeking professional help and so things that might have been minor dysfunctions if dealt with professionally clearly got worse and worse until they escalated into violence.  The family had no outlet for their pent up emotional problems.  If Robin had even consulted with a member of the clergy (who also act as counselors) then that would have been a good thing for him to do, but he didn't.  His passivity was his undoing and the undoing of his family.  As one of the most functional members of the family he carries the burden of responsibility for what went wrong.  The same thing could happen to any family where there are underlying problems and no one does anything.

At the first trial Mike Guest was cross-examining Barbara Neasmith[Mask of Sanity pages75/76].

"You say,Miss Neasmith,Robin Bain was barely tolerated by his wife?"

"She didn't want him".

"She didn't want him in the house?"


Neasmith said she heard heated arguments at night."I heard Margaret say to Robin he would have to change,have to let go".

Guest said that in Margaret's diary there was a reference where she compares her husband to Satan,and accuses him of being a bad influence and defiling the home.

At this point the judge became worried about Miss Neasmith's statements being hearsay and clears the court.

Legal argument follows.The judge comes back and says he will allow limited evidence on hearsay.

Guest questions Neasmith.

"Would you say the family were dysfunctional?"

"Yes,I would".

"Heated arguments at night?".


"She bawled him out?"

"Margaret wanted the relationship to end ".

"And threatened him with the Devil?".

"She said if he didn't mend his ways he would go to hell".

"Who took most of the decisions?"

"She did".

Yeah but this is hearsay.  While Margaret may have had the more forceful character, Robin may have seen it all as symptomatic of her dysfunction.  Robin after all held all the cards financially and without him, Margaret would have been far weaker.  On her own she might have had difficulty facing the world.  You could call this a toxic symbiotic relationship.  Materially Margaret could not do without Robin.

The other thing: whose friend was Barbara?  If she was Margaret's friend then she might have been biased in her assessment.

So what I am saying here is that we have to look at these anecdotes with some skeptism.  They go against the reality-on-the-ground in which we have Robin living in the house, watching TV programmes with his wife for crying out loud, eating with the family presumably, and praying in the house. was at Robin's request that Miss Neasmith came over from Australia to try to help Margaret.I don't see her as being anyones' friend in particular.Robin wanted to bring Margaret back to God.

Yes,Robin was the breadwinner,but I am sure he would have continued to give financial support.Obviously he kept hanging in there,because he was still there three years after Neasmith visited.But he wouldn't have been getting much support.David didn't want him,Arawa had said that he wished he would leave.Laniet seemed to get on with him ok,she was happy to stay with him at Taiera,but she wasn't living at home.That leaves only Stephen. He could have been happy enough having his father around,but thereagain,it seems he had become Margaret's favourite.

Ok.  Now the other thing is that we have testimony in which Laniet says that DB, with or without his mother's help was trying to force a wedge between Robin and the rest of the household.  Given that, at age 22 DB has failed to leave home and set up his own life, it is explainable from a biological/evolutionary perspective that he will attempt to unseat the alpha male of the house in order to take his place.  There is plenty of evidence of him doing this, from the mere fact that he refused to leave home, to his placement of himself in the second master bedroom of the house.  There would appear to be a very strong not-able-to-leave home dysfunction happening here.  In addition there is testimony of him being controlling and manipulative towards his sisters which is an extension of this need to be in charge.  Obviously by being weak and passive, Robin is leaving a vacuum which allowed this to happen.

Probably Robin living in the house at Taeiri and coming home at weekends only was a good compromise.

Well,I didn't leave home 'till I was 26,why would I when I was getting cheap board and lodgings?And I was earning,David Bain wasn't.

So far as him taking the second master bedroom,well he was the oldest,I don't have a problem with that.I would have done the same,seeing as Robin was living in the caravan.

Re him unseating the alpha male,well I had never heard of alpha males until I started to watch wild-life documentaries.But I understand what you mean,and David did seem to have taken over,to some degree.You have only got to look at what Laniet said,David had called a family meeting.Not Margaret,not Robin ,but he,David.

And there was a mention in Mask of Sanity where a girl [friend] of David's visiting the house had seen on a list in  the kitchen "EVERYONE EAT RABBIT".

i nagged my 22 yr old fully employed daughter to leave home! It came to a stage that I felt she needed to stand on her own 2 feet.Robin was the only wage earner & Margaret was feeding 3 growing teenagers,David & herself.That would have been hard & maybe she felt David needed to support himself.

The problem with David Bain is that he wasn't earning any real money.So he would have a problem leaving home.I wonder if he was even paying for food,or contributing towards other household expenses.

That's why I wonder Mike if that was the reason  he was asked to leave.Maybe his parents thought then he would have to think about how he was going to support himself,& give him the nudge he may have needed.

Yes,that could be the reason,but I am more inclined to go with what bob said.

There was plenty of room for him to stay,and it wasn't as if he had a job.My wife and I never considered asking our son to leave home while he was studying at University in the same city.

I think there was another reason for him to leave,as bob has suggested.

No ,it was never mentioned to me that I should leave home.And the only reason I left home was because I got married.

I notice that there are plenty of sons in Italy that don't seem to ever leave home.And I think one of my sons would still be living with us if he hadn't moved to another town to work.I like home comforts,so does my wife,partly why we never travel.

Sitting for hours in an aeroplane.touring Europe or wherever in a bus,standing in a queue waiting to see something or other,not for the likes of us,no thank you.

It seems counselling was recommended for the most dysfunctional member of the family Kent,

                   David Bains friend recommends Counseling

Rebecca Hemming and Helen Saunders were university friends, who met the accused in 1994 through their mutual interest in theatre and music. In the period prior to 20 June they had regular social contacts with the accused.  Ms Hemming’s evidence includes an account of an intense conversation with the accused on 14 June. He spoke about his family, his perception of himself, the plan for the family to build a new house, black auras which Laniet had experienced, a trance which he had experienced at a concert, feelings of deja vu and a premonition that something horrible was going to happen. Ms Hemming suggested a need for counseling.

In reply to by Mike Stockdale


Mike you say Nobody has a liquor cabinet in your family, there's a sign of a dysfunctional family if ever I saw one, people like Vic would go broke with dysfunctional people like you around!!

Yeah,Vic would have to look for another job.I doubt that I would have spent more than about $100 on liquor over my lifetime.I used to have the odd shandy when I went to the pub sometimes with team mates after a rugby match,but that was only a once in a season thing for me.And my wife is teetotal.