Allegations of Sexual Abuse

False Allegations

Nick Wills

Waikato Times
May 12, 1997

Police waste their time on Bain review

The police decision to review their handling of the Bain murder inquiry will be a waste of time and money. David Bain has already unsuccessfully challenged his conviction of the 1994 murders of his father, mother, brother and two sisters at the Appeal Court and Privy Council. The case against him stands. The announcement last week of the so-called "independent review" will achieve nothing but predictably vindicate a few thin-skinned officers. It will be headed by one of the country's top cops, assistant commissioner Brion Duncan, and is designed solely to put to rest rumours and speculation -- fed by Joe Karam's new book David and Goliath -- that the police got it wrong.

The review has more to do with public relations than justice or the pursuit of truth.

The only reason for having another look at the case against Bain would be if new evidence came to light. That hasn't happened. If significant new information did emerge, a policeman -- even one as respected as Mr Duncan -- should be last person put in charge of the investigation into the investigation. A retired judge or QC would be more appropriate.

Mr Karam has been a skilful champion of Bain, but has fallen well short of proving his theory that Robin Bain killed the four others before shooting himself and sparing David. What Mr Karam has manipulated is the public's growing awareness that the police are occasionally capable of grave error and unforgivable conduct.

Detective Brent Garner's faked Satanic attack against himself last year is one relatively minor source of that concern. More serious were bungled investigations of Janine Law's death in 1987 and Agnes Alli'iva'a in 1992. In both cases the women were found bruised, semi-clothed and with signs of sexual molestation. Yet police at first inexplicably ruled out foul play.

Then there was also the case of Hamilton student Nick Wills who in 1995 was charged with rape because police failed to do something as basic as check his alibi. Taupiri farmer Arthur Allan Thomas, pardoned for the Crewe murders in 1979, is still extremely bitter about the way police manufactured a case against him. Last week he spoke in support of David Bain. Mr Thomas is also advising David Dougherty to seek compensation for three years he spent in jail for a rape he didn't commit.

There are other problems. Officers are quitting in high numbers, robbing the force of expertise and experience. Also, Treasury wants to shave millions of dollars off the police budget while in Waikato, they can't even guarantee 111 emergency calls will be answered.

New Zealand police are not corrupt and still largely do a sound job. But the public demands more. Officers now have to strive to earn the public's confidence every day and on every case they handle. The police also have to introduce new technology effectively, manage their budgets better, retain key staff, recruit the right people and guard against the type of arrogance and complacency that puts innocent people in jail and allows crimes to go unpunished.