Karam gives account of 'shonky' police evidence

By Geraldine Johns

Joe Karam. File photo / Nigel Marple
Joe Karam. File photo / Nigel Marple

As David Bain fights for compensation for his years spent in jail, the man who helped free him is publishing a behind-the-scenes account of the shonky evidence used to implicate the teenager in the shooting of his family.

Joe Karam has a suggestion: that finally, after all these years, police involved in the inquiry might come forward to explain their actions and motives.

And QC Julian Miles has joined the fray, accusing the police and courts of a "deeply flawed" investigation, prosecution and conviction, whitewashed by a "compliant" Police Complaints Authority.

Miles makes his allegation in the foreword to Karam's new book, Trial by Ambush: the Prosecutions of David Bain, which analyses the police investigation. The book, to be published next week, details the process of overturning Bain's conviction and, Karam says, contains evidence that has never been espoused.

Bain served 13 years for the murder of his parents and three siblings before being acquitted at retrial in 2009.

Karam says the book is intended to put to rest the "so-called controversy" of whether David or his father, Robin, was responsible for the killings.

In effect, it lays out a prosecution case against Robin.

David Bain, with Karam's assistance, has lodged an official claim for compensation for 13 years in prison from his 1995 conviction until the Privy Council ordered a retrial in 2007.

Karam, who is also suing supporters of Robin Bain for defamation over comments they made on their website and on Facebook, indicates there is plenty more dust still to settle.

He refers to the actions of Constable Terry Van Turnhout, who admitted at the second trial that he had made an error of judgment by handling a key piece of evidence at the homicide scene - the broken glasses allegedly worn by Bain.

"Who knows, in another 15 years one of the detectives might come forward with some more evidence a la Van Turnhout's belated confession," Karam writes.

Bain now lives and works in West Auckland. Next month, he and Karam are to give a joint address to an international justice conference in Perth.

Karam says Bain's retrial and acquittal has failed to quell speculation.

"A whole lot of myths developed as a result of the manner in which the trial was covered," he said this week. "It was shallow and sensational coverage.

"In cases like this, people develop a belief and it's very hard to shake. My main wish in that regard is not to change people's minds, but at least open their eyes to the facts. I think those facts have never been espoused."

The books says the case against David Bain was "arguably predicated upon concealment rather than disclosure, arguments unsupported by the evidence, incomplete and defective scientific analysis, and in some instances, totally bankrupt knowledge."

In November, then Justice Minister Simon Power announced the appointment of retired Canadian Supreme Court Judge Ian Binnie to assess Bain's claim for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

- Herald on Sunday

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