Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Did TV3 deliver the Bain 'smoking gun'?

David Bain, centre, was found not guilty of the murder of his family in his retrial. Photo / Simon Baker
David Bain, centre, was found not guilty of the murder of his family in his retrial. Photo / Simon Baker

I'll be honest with you. I have long been in the camp that thought, "David done it." So have I changed my tune after watching 3rd Degree last night? Will I finally have to eat my words, retract all those heated dinner party conversations? As Melanie Reid, the reporter who broke this sensational story might say, "I'll tell you, after the break."

You've got to hand it to Melanie Reid, she sure gets a story. And when she does, she knows how to milk it better than anyone else. In fact she gave the udders marked Bain a good work out over for the full hour last night. Naturally this had me watching intently.

By now you will have seen a photo of the marks found on Robin Bain's fingers in a blown up photo taken by amateur sleuth David Giles, but back to last night.

Duncan Garner appeared on screen to set the scene: "Could this be the smoking gun that we've been looking for?" God I hope so, I thought, I steadied myself for the back-downs, for the "I was wrong!"

I thought for a moment that I must have so wanted David to be guilty, that maybe I became like the cops, stuck on the one track. Guyon was next, he's less of a showman than Duncan, less prone to hyperbole, and so it was that he was more measured with his "compelling new evidence that might change your mind about the case," and yes he was right, it might.

Melanie Reid - the reporter known for her scoops - was next, she was more certain that she had the smoking gun, or at least the evidence to show that Robin had been holding the gun.

"These tests will show starling new evidence about the killer." On that point she was right. "Tonight we'll show you that Robin Bain did load that gun." The entire hour was spent 'proving' this notion, as we saw 'experts' who looked at the blown up photo. All agreed that it looked very compelling indeed.

The marks would have been a sensation for the defence team at the time and they are a sensation now. But let me put that into perspective, after the break.

"What else could it be?" Asked Reid of another expert, a trustworthy looking rooster, a forensic man who honestly answered that he honestly didn't know, "well we don't have Robin's hands do we?" But he was sure that the marks "looked consistent."

A team of people were brought in to test the hypothesis while Joe Karam stood in the background. They fired the gun, they loaded the magazine, they all ended up with gunpowder marks on their thumb and finger that looked like the ones in the photos.

For balance, Reid submitted herself to the high-pressure cross-examination of the show's hosts Duncan and Guyon on the 3rd Degree set. Okay, so they were hardly going to get stuck in and ruin a good story by giving her anything approaching The 3rd Degree.

Garner could sniff a talkback windfall for his RadioLive show which he duly promoted, but he did at least administer some pressure on Reid's story, call it a Chinese burn rather than a waterboarding.

"How come Robin's prints weren't on the gun?" Reid, sounding more like a defence lawyer than a journalist replied, "there were nine sets of prints on the gun that weren't up to evidential standard."

It's clear that Reid is a believer; she's a crusader and hats off to her for that. Her energy and drive makes these stories happen, her zeal gives them heft. But was it really as she stated, "the knockout punch"? I'll tell you that, after the break.

Look at the photos again, if the measurements are indeed the same there's no doubt that it's a powerful argument. The marks of the powder residue from the volunteers look indeed 'consistent', though way more smudgy than on the original Robin Bain photo, where they appeared to be more like faded scratches.

At one point Reid asked Giles, rather hopefully I thought, "So you could be responsible for ending the debate on the Bain case?" The man who had found the marks in the photos was clearly chuffed at the thought. But has he? Or has he simply found the first piece of anything resembling evidence that implicates Robin Bain? And therein lies the problem for those in the "David done it" camp. A pile of equally compelling evidence seems pointed in his direction while the "Robin done it" camp really only have this.

Maybe it boils down to the age-old ability of humans to draw conclusions to suit their needs. The photograph in question illustrates this perfectly. The placement of the cartridge points to David as it's placed just a little too conveniently, but now those little marks on Robin's hands look like all the world to David's supporters as final proof that their man is not only innocent but surely due that payout.

But will he get that payout? I'll tell you that, after the break.

-NZ Herald Online

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