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Police Commissoner Peter Doone - Statement on report findings
The Police Complaints Authority and police prepared a substantial (123 page) report on the findings after reviewing the investigation into the Bain family murders. The report is available from the office of the Police Complaints Authority in Wellington, from Dunedin Police HQ and from the Northern Region HQ in Auckland at a cost of $15.

Police also issued a news release which read:

NEW ZEALAND POLICE NEWS RELEASE
EMBARGOED TO 5AM WEDNESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 1997

Commissioner welcomes report outcome

Police Commissioner Peter Doone is pleased that a joint Police Complaints Authority report has vindicated the actions of staff involved in the Bain homicide investigation.

“Members of the original inquiry team have over a period of time been needlessly subjected to attacks on their professional credibility and integrity,” he says. “ They will welcome this report as I do, which clearly finds no evidence of criminal behaviour or misconduct by any officer.”

“The report finds that the original investigation was conducted with integrity, and in line with policy, standards and procedures. It also finds the wide-ranging attack on the integrity and competency of the investigators is unjustified”.

The commissioner says the report findings will go some way in relieving the significant pressure key investigators and their families have been feeling.

“The attacks on their integrity and competency have been one-sided and at times vitriolic with little opportunity until now for the staff to have their honour and professionalism defended and the record set straight,” he says.

Mr Doone says police accept actions must stand up to scrutiny. And it was for this reason, as well as the integrity of the service and individual officers, that he sought in May the joint review with the Police Complaints Authority.”

“There has never been a formal complaint to police or the PCA in relation to the Bain investigation,” Mr Doone says. “Apart from Mr Joe Karam making allegations against the police in his book, he has not followed this through with a formal complaint even though we invited him to do so 12 months ago.”

The review focused on police conduct of the June 1994 investigation into the deaths of five members of the Bain family for which David Bain was subsequently convicted.

“The allegations made by Mr Karam in his book were untested and damaged the reputation and professionalism of the New Zealand Police and individual officers.

“The review, undertaken by the PCA and assisted by highly experienced and competent investigators, shows that Mr Karam’s assertions were emotive, extravagant and wrong,” Mr Doone says.

“The review points out quite rightly that with the benefit of hindsight and time, some non crucial procedures could have been approached differently. But these are far outweighed by the attention to detail in gathering, analysing and presenting evidence that was undertaken by the crime scene investigators.

“The public should be reassured that nothing in the report suggests the evidence was wrongly or unfairly presented.

“This was a demanding crime scene with five bodies and one surviving family member,” Mr Doone says. “ Staff were faced with a range of pressures and issues but they responded in a highly competent and professional manner.

“I do not doubt the sincerity and professionalism of their approach.”

Two issues – the finding of the lens and the time the computer was turned on and message saved – have been dealt with at length by the review

Mr Doone says he is both pleased and reassured that the review found no impropriety by police in the discovery of the lens in Stephen Bain’s bedroom.

“Much has been made by Mr Karam and Mr Withnall of the lens and how it was found," Mr Doone says. “The review investigators paid special attention to this issue and believe the lens got into Stephen’s bedroom during the struggle with Stephen. Less likely is the possibility the lens was pushed under the boot during movement of items to facilitate the removal of Stephen’s body.

“The review team noted that the officer in charge of the scene found the lens under the skate when he lifted the boot,” Mr Doone says.

Confusion arose however when the officer mistakenly identified to the court the lens as being seen in photograph 62.

‘It is clear from and ESR examination that what the officer thought was the lens in the photograph is a shadow cast by a curved piece of paper and its reflection from an overlying plastic bag.

“I am assured by the fact that the officer did not knowingly give false evidence or act improperly in court. While it was an honest mistake, it serves as a lesson to all staff of the attention to detail required in preparing documentation.

Mr Doone says he accepts the review’s finding that the police could have handled the initial testing of the Bain family computer to determine when it was switched on and a message entered and saved, and the way the information was recorded, calculated and presented to the jury.

He does not believe the original test and the fact that an officer’s watch was two minutes fast, disadvantaged David Bain.

“Technology that has allowed the testing and analysis undertaken for the review team has only become available in the last 12 months,” Mr Doone says.

Mr Doone also accepts that some other minor procedural matters needed improvement: such as processing of data so that corrected information quickly reaches the officers dealing with those details: and that staff were remiss in not sending David Bain’s Laser running shoes to the ESR for full forensic examination relying instead on visual inspection.

The police armourer also recorded incorrect rifle measurements and testified that the rifle was longer than it was (this was picked up during the trial and was disposed of by Justice Williamson, without disadvantaging David Bain)

“These issues did not in any way disadvantage David Bain but they are, with the benefit of hindsight, points worth remembering for future investigations,” Mr Doone says.

“The review is comprehensive and has addressed a range of complex issues,” Mr Doone says. “ It’s to be expected a review of this nature will take us to task on some police procedural issues, and we can learn from the review’s recommendations.”

“But the overall conclusion is that the police investigation of David Bain was proper and thorough, and that the investigation team upheld the integrity of the New Zealand Police.”

Released by Kaye Calder, Media Relations, PNHQ


Next related article: Forward to Summary of findings in Bain reviewSummary of findings in Bain review
Prev related article: Back to The police investigation into the handling of the caseThe police investigation into the handling of the case

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NEW ZEALAND POLICE NEWS RELEASE

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