Transcript 115: The Bain Family Murders | New Zealand (Part 1)

You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.

Support for Evidence Locker comes from BetterHelp – The world’s largest e-counselling platform. Visit ​​Evidence that’s better​-h-e-l-p​ and join the over 1,000,000 people ​who have taken ​charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. Go to today and 10% off your first month.

Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Some parts are graphic in nature and listener discretion is advised. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.

In the pre-dawn hours of June 20th 1994, the house at 65 Every Street was shrouded in darkness. The Bains were known to be hoarders, and all sorts of things cluttered the interior of the house: a mattress laid on top of a heap of clothes, soft toys, boxes, books, a bulging bean bag… Some items spilled over into the yard, all the way up to the caravan, where the patriarch of the family slept. It looked more like a scrapyard than a family home.

At precisely nine minutes past seven, South Dunedin emergency services received a chilling call from the eldest of four children, 22-year-old David Bain.

David: Help, they’re all dead… They’re all dead. I came home, and they’re all dead.

Operator: Whereabouts are you?

David: Uhm. Uhm. Every Street.

Operator: Every Street.

David: 65 Every Street. They’re all dead.

Operator: Who’s all dead?

David: My family. They’re all dead. Hurry up.

Operator: That’s okay. Every Street… That runs off Summerville Street?

David: Yes.

Operator: Your phone number you’re calling from.

David: 4542527

Operator: And your last name?

David: Bain.

Operator: Okay, we’re on our way. Okay, Mr Bain?

David: Please hurry.

Operator: Yeah, we’ll be there very shortly.

David’s mother, Margaret, his sisters Arawa and Laniet and his brother Stephen had all been shot dead in their beds. The father, Robin Bain’s lifeless body, was in the living room near the front door, with a gunshot wound to the head. Next to Robin’s body, lying on the carpet, was David’s .22 calibre rifle with a silencer. What atrocity took place inside the Bain family home on this icy-cold Dunedin morning?

>>Intro Music

Robin Bain and Margaret Cullen met at a Presbyterian Church in Dunedin. Both came from large families and wanted to, one day, have a big family too. The couple got married in 1968 when Robin was 33 and Margaret was 25.

When Robin was younger, he had worked as a Christian missionary and remained passionate about this vocation. He trained as a teacher and together with Margaret, also a teacher, they decided to move to Papua New Guinea to work as educators and missionaries. Their son David was two years old when they left New Zealand in 1974.

The Cullen Bain family lived in Gaulim, New Britain, which is an island off the main island of Papua New Guinea. On the small, sparsely developed pacific island are many tribes with different languages and customs. It is arguably one of the most daring spots on the planet for missionaries to go.

While Robin worked at the Teacher’s Training College, Margaret studied anthropology. She immersed herself into the culture, customs and beliefs of the native people of Papua New Guinea. While living in Gaulim, the couple had two daughters. Arawa was born in 1975 and Laniet came a year later. The family embraced the local lifestyle, and the Bain kids grew up in a home that was full of traditional artefacts and elements.

After living in the rural Gaulim for six years, they relocated to the capital city of Port Moresby. Robin worked at a school within a compound, offering short, refresher courses for adults. The family also lived inside the compound. Their home was always known to be chaotic, and the family lived a free-spirited lifestyle.

Neighbours and friends from this time described Margaret as friendly and fun, always laughing. Robin was earnest and slightly more reserved than his wife. The family was considered to be odd, as the mother didn’t lift a finger around the house, and the kids habitually ran around naked.

The youngest son, Stephen, was born in Port Moresby in 1980. It was common knowledge within the family that Robin had wanted another child, not Margaret. Either way, family life carried on in the usual, feral fashion. It reached a point that Margaret was concerned about the well-being of her family, as more and more comments were made about the way they lived. She approached a psychologist who assessed each member of the family. About the eldest son, David, she said:

“He looked at you in an odd way without expression.”

And about the father, Robin, her report said:

“There wasn’t an ounce of emotion in him. He was completely disempowered.”

People who knew the family felt that, even though she was a couple of years younger than her husband, Margaret was the dominant partner in the marriage. Robin was dedicated to his family and often went along with whatever made his wife happy.

We’ll take a quick break for a word from our sponsors, BetterHelp.

To say this year has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. There is so much uncertainty and frustration, sometimes, it all just gets too much. I reached out to BetterHelp and was matched with my very own therapist – we started communicating in less than 48 hours. It’s not a crisis line, it’s not self-help, it is professional counseling done securely and privately online.

Best of all, it is available to all our listeners, worldwide. There is a broad range of expertise in BetterHelp’s counselor network which may not be locally available in many areas. BetterHelp is committed to facilitating great therapeutic matches so they make it easy and free to change counsellors if needed. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHelp that they are recruiting additional counsellors in all 50 states.

You’ll get timely and thoughtful responses plus you can schedule weekly sessions. You choose if you prefer a video or phone call, so you can be in touch with your allocated therapist whenever and wherever it suits you. I opted for the Video Call and gained so much insight in only a couple of sessions, I can’t wait for the next one. Another nice feature offered by BetterHelp, is the fact that I can send a message to my therapist at any time, and he will respond when he receives it. Just knowing there is someone out there to talk to… It’s a comforting thought.

It’s more affordable than traditional offline counseling and, if you need it, financial aid is available too. BetterHelp wants you to start living your happiest life TODAY.

Visit ​​Evidence that’s better​-h-e-l-p​ and join the over 1,000,000 people ​who have taken ​charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. As an Evidence Locker listener, you can get 10% off your first month at

Now, back to today’s episode.

In 1988, after living the life of missionaries for 15 years, the Bains decided it was time to return to their native New Zealand.

They returned to a home they owned, that had fallen into disrepair over the years. But after many years in a developing country, it didn’t bother them much, they made do with what they had.

It was an adjustment to settle back into life in New Zealand, as their teenage kids were not used to the schooling system and approach to education. As a family, they were always involved in theatre and music, so eventually, by taking part in these activities, they did settle in.

Robin struggled to find a regular job back in Dunedin. He decided to take the only job on offer to him, that of principal at Taieri Mouth Primary School. It was a small country school, with only two teachers, including Robin. It was a step down for 58-year-old Robin, who had worked in larger, foreign schools, and had trained teachers and adults. Taieri is also located 50km south from Dunedin, so it was quite a commute. But it was a job, and Robin had many mouths to feed, so he made the most of the opportunity.

50-year-old Margaret perpetuated the chaotic home environment they had created while living abroad. She loved going to garage sales and bringing home all sorts of worthless things. Robin was a hoarder too, which meant the house, already full with the family of six, was always untidy and looked like it was bursting at the seams. Margaret was also an obsessive fruit bottler and stacked bottles of peaches, pears and apricots throughout the house.

The four children were expected to work around the house and in the garden. They spent most of their school holidays working through lists of chores given to them by their mother. Yet somehow, the house was always in disarray.

During her time in PNG, Margaret became interested in new age spiritualism. She believed in channelling spirits and felt her family needed protection from Belial. Belial is the Hebrew word for ‘the wicked or worthless’ personified in Jewish and Christian texts as the devil. Margaret believed that Robin was the devil incarnate. In fact, she was known to call her husband:

“…a son of Belial – one of the four crown princes of hell.”

She kept a diary, in which she ranked her family in terms of how possessed by the devil they were. David was always the least ‘possessed’, Robin the most, with Laniet a close second.

Margaret clocked out of her home duties and banished herself to the caravan in the garden for a while. She obsessively updated her diary during this time, in which she documented all her feelings towards her husband. When it came to her children, it was clear that she favoured David, as he never gave her any problems. Arawa also tended to side with her mother, whereas Laniet stuck up for Robin when he wasn’t around to defend himself.

Robin was concerned about his wife and reached out to an old friend who had been close to the family when they lived in Papua New Guinea. She visited Margaret and shared Robin’s concern. Margaret was convinced that she had a connection to Winston Churchill in a previous incarnation. She also believed her friend was of profound relevance to her, she was perhaps a sister or even a mother in Margaret’s previous life. The friend felt that Margaret had lost her mind and felt out of her depth. Margaret was a forceful personality who liked to speak and speak, never listening to what the other person had to say.

From her diary, it is clear that she felt she had lost a grip on her family. In an attempt to gain control again, she had concocted an elaborate plan of building a new house. The idea was to tear down the over-crowded house at 65 Every Street and build a large retreat, a place where they could speak to God, and strangers could come and enjoy the space with them. David was instrumental in the planning, he supported her and helped her with drawings and such. He also prepared the garden, as the idea was to imitate what they had in PNG. The house was set a way back from the road, and plants surrounded the home to block out the outside world.

Robin was not included in this vision. In fact, during this time, Robin and Margaret were estranged, and he was banished from the family home. He stayed in Taieri three days a week. At first, Robin slept in his van, but later on, he spent his nights inside the old schoolhouse. When he headed home for the weekends and Monday nights, he slept in the garden caravan. His salary still went into the joint account he shared with Margaret, to support his family.

In June 1994, David Bain was 22 years old. He always loved music, so he had joined a men’s choir. After struggling at school, when his family moved to New Zealand, the teenager worked hard to get his academics back on track. He managed to get himself into university to study Zoology, so he could become a veterinarian. However, this didn’t last. David dropped out of school soon after enrolling and took a job at Opera Alive.

After some time he decided to go back to university and set out to study classical music. He also received professional voice training, hoping to become an opera singer. His fellow students enjoyed his sense of humour and always felt he was the type of person who took a joke well. David lived at the family home and received welfare money, which he contributed to the household. For pocket money, he delivered newspapers.

19-year-old Arawa Bain intended to follow in her parents’ footsteps and was studying to be a teacher. She studied in Dunedin and lived in the family home. Arawa was head girl of her high school and had many friends and acquaintances. She alluded to her friends that her older brother David was very controlling and that he kept tabs on all of her movements. Because of this, she avoided making plans with friends, as David often invited himself along, playing the role of a chaperone. Arawa also mentioned that she was uneasy about David owning a gun and told a friend that he sometimes threatened his family members, saying he’d shoot them.

In the winter of 1994, Laniet was 18 years old. She was the only Bain child who did not reside at 65 Every Street. She worked as an escort part-time, something she did not want her parents to know. She lived in a flat in Russel Street, and at times, lived with her father in the schoolhouse at Taieri. In June, Laniet also worked at the Museum Café and was hoping to straighten her life out.

14-year-old Stephen was still at school and did not seem to be overly involved in either of the two camps that had formed in his family. Because he was the youngest, Margaret kept him close to her. He craved approval from his father, but Robin had been sidelined by Margaret. David stepped in as a father figure to all the children, but this only caused more friction in the family.

The Bain family home reflected the state of affairs, as Margaret and Robin kept adding to the clutter by bringing home useless stuff. Heaps of collectables and rubbish littered the inside of the home and flowed out onto the entire property. Items were strewn along the path to where the caravan was. School friends of all the Bain kids said that the Bain family was a pretty strange bunch. It wasn’t a happy and welcoming home, but rather an erratic and chaotic place.

On Saturday 18 June 1994, Robin, David and Stephen were seen on the side of the house, doing repairs. A neighbour said there didn’t seem to be too much conversation going back and forth, but other than that, everything appeared to be as expected. The next day, Robin and his sons went to St Kilda beach to take part in the ‘polar plunge’ – an annual winter swimming event.

After the polar plunge, David went to a theatre rehearsal, Robin attended a seminar about genealogy and Stephen went home.

Laniet came home for the Sunday night, and the Bains were all under one roof again. Laniet had told friends that they were having a family meeting and that she wanted to set things straight with her family. Margaret cooked fish in the microwave, and David and Laniet went to a take-out spot close-by to buy some fries. They watched a nature program together, but then Margaret and Robin wanted to change it to a thriller.

David told his dad he wanted to use the chainsaw in the garden the following day, and Robin said no. It was typical for them to clash over things like that. David worked in the garden, then Robin would interfere. It was a power struggle between a father and his grown son, that didn’t need much provocation.

Leaving his parents and siblings to watch the thriller on TV, David decided to turn in early. He went to his room around 8:30, as he had an early start the next day.

Around 11:30, a car left home, and drove to the nearest ATM to deposit money into the credit card account. This wasn’t unusual behaviour in the thrifty Bain household. Either Robin or Margaret would routinely dash out before midnight to make a payment, to avoid extra charges in interest. But who it was who made the payment that night, isn’t clear.

On the cold, midwinter’s Monday morning of 20 June 1994, David woke up and left home with his dog at 5:45 to do his usual paper route. He ran most of the way like he usually did and kept an eye on the time. At 6:42, David was back home. When he returned, he noticed the light in his mother’s room was on but didn’t think it was odd as she usually woke up around 6:30. He went to his bedroom, kicked off his shoes, hung up the paper bag and threw his Walkman on his bed. Then he headed downstairs to the laundry.

A  description to understand the layout of the home would perhaps be helpful: from the front door hallway, there was a lounge to the right and David’s room to the left. Straight ahead was a staircase heading down. Behind the stairs, to the right, behind the were Margaret and Stephen’s rooms. Laniet’s room was also on the first floor, behind the stairwell, to the left. Arawa’s room was downstairs, where the kitchen, bathroom and laundry were too. One could enter the house either from the front door at the top or a side door on the lower level.

When David had made his way to the laundry, he washed his hands, as it was dirty from the black ink from the newspapers. He then loaded the washing machine with an assortment of his own clothes, including a red jumper he had worn on his paper route for a week, as well as clothing from the washing basket and started a wash cycle.

Then David went back to his room, where he noticed his rifle’s trigger lock and some bullets on the floor. His first instinct was to run to his mother’s room. He found a gruesome scene of Margaret, who had been shot and killed. He became aware of a gurgling sound and rushed to Laniet’s room where she was on the brink of death. David ran to go and find his father in the caravan, but on his way to the front door, he saw his dad, also dead, on the living room floor. He noticed the computer was on in the nook and read one sentence:

“Sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay.”

David realised his dad had killed the family and then ended his own life. Distraught and in shock, he called emergency services, saying:

“Help. They’re all dead, they’re all dead…”

When responders arrived at 7:30, David refused to open the door. Officers were cautious, as they didn’t know what the situation was. If David was the gunman, there was a chance he would shoot at them too. They broke down the front door, and found a catatonic David, sitting on the floor in his bedroom.

David pointed to the living room, where officers found Robin Bain’s body with a .22 rifle, with its silencer next to it. In the magazine were two live rounds left. A second magazine was on the floor, right next to Robin’s right hand, containing three new rounds.

They made their way through the house where they found Margaret. She was shot in the head, lying in her bed. Possibly while she was still asleep. Laniet was also still in bed, and Arawa was shot, kneeling down, as if she was pleading for her life before the assailant shot her in the head.

At first, officers did not realise that the alcove behind a curtain in Margaret’s room was another bedroom, so Stephen’s body was not discovered until quite a bit later. The 14-year-old’s body was found on the floor, and it was clear that he had put up a struggle.

From the onset, investigators felt that there was only one killer. And if it wasn’t Robin Bain, the only other suspect could be his son, David.

In family murders like this one, police look at the father first. In this case, the murder weapon was found next to the father’s body, so it was an obvious starting point. Did Robin Bain snap and decided to end the lives of his entire family?

If Robin was the killer, police had to construct a sequence of events on the morning of the murders. Robin’s alarm clock was set for 6:30am and had been switched off, indicating that he woke up at his usual time. Some bullet shells were found in Robin’s caravan. He was also reading an Agatha Christie book, with the story “Death Comes as the End” – a story set in ancient Egypt, about the eldest son who kills his entire family.

After waking up on the morning of the killings, Robin then entered through the back door after David had left on his paper run, went to David’s room where he took his rifle and found the spare key in a jar on the desk to unlock the trigger lock.

Robin then put on David’s opera gloves and walked through the house, killing one family member after the other. The order of the killings has never been definitively proven. If Robin Bain was, in fact, the killer, he took off his bloodied clothes after the shootings and placed it in the laundry basket downstairs and changed. Then he went into the darkness of the living room, switched on the family computer and typed his final message, apologising to David.

Then, without switching on the lights, he placed the shotgun on the floor, pointing up to his face. Although he was right-handed, Robin then placed his left temple on the end of the barrel, steadying it with his right hand, before pulling the trigger with his left hand.

Investigators had to consider Robin’s state of mind at the time of the killings. A fellow principal of a school near Taieri, Kevin Mackenzie, became concerned about Robin Bain, early in 1994. He felt that Robin was depressed and that he was not fit to teach. To support him, Kevin arranged a workshop about work-related stress. Robin used to be enthusiastic about his job but didn’t seem to care as much as before. He had applied for other jobs, but never got any interviews, it was very discouraging.

By all accounts, Robin Bain’s life was in turmoil. He did not have his admin sorted, his office, van and caravan were messy, and people recalled his poor personal hygiene. But was he in such a bad way, that he had decided to take his own life and take his family into eternity with him? That is, all but one member of his family.

It was perhaps a plausible version of events, but so many things did not make sense. Investigators could not exclude the possibility that Robin was a victim too and that the actual killer was David.

In the wake of shock and confusion after the deaths, the extended Bain and Cullen families came to Dunedin to support David and help him with arrangements for the five funerals.

David stayed with Margaret’s sister and her husband in the days following the murders. His aunt tried to make sense of what had happened and had many conversations with David during this time, asking him if he knew what could have led to such a catastrophic event. During one conversation, David had a breakdown of sorts, speaking incoherently, saying:

“Black Hands, black hands… Dying… Everyone dying… Black hands, I can’t stop them. They came to take them away… It’s just like Schindler’s List… Black Hands… Dying all around, dying everywhere…”

His aunt felt that David had witnessed the killings. And even possibly, that he was the one who had committed them. But the thought of it was unimaginable, so she kept her suspicions to herself.

As the family finalised funeral arrangements, David was insistent that HE wanted to be the one to make the final decisions. He said what everyone had to wear in their open caskets, what music had to be played and who were to say the respective eulogies. It was almost like he was directing a theatre production.

But it wasn’t only David’s strange behaviour in the days following his family’s deaths that made investigators uneasy about him. As they processed statements and evidence, more and more things pointed them towards David being the more likely killer.

David’s account of his movements that morning was closely analysed. He said that when he went to his mother’s room, he saw her lying on her bed, deceased, with her eyes open. Yet, when police officers found her body, her eyes were closed.

Just off the lounge was an alcove that was used as a computer room. A heavy velvet curtain separated the two spaces. In processing the scene, investigators found a spent shell casing near the computer, which suggested the gun was fired from that position. Did David wait for his dad to come in, kneel down to say his morning prayer, then shot him?

In revisiting the scenario of Robin being the killer, investigators realised that, in fact, there was very little evidence to prove that Robin was guilty. If he had done it, his actions were quite the contradiction. Why would he use his son’s rifle and gloves, knowing it would implicate him? Why wear gloves at all if he was intending to end his own life? Why would he choose to spare David, when most people who knew the family felt that David always sided with Margaret and clashed with Robin?

Robin was well-read and known to be a quiet thinker. He was a teacher and loved literature. If he was planning to exit this world in such a dramatic fashion, one would imagine a more poetic suicide note. Most likely, being from his generation, a handwritten one. But all he left was a typed one-liner on the family computer, written in the past tense… It definitely makes one wonder if Robin was the author of the message at all…

Friends and fellow students told police that David Bain displayed odd behaviour in the time leading up to the murders. At the beginning of June, during choir practise, he became restless, climbed to the top, clambering over his choir mates and left. He went to a backroom, sat alone, in a distressed state, rocking himself back and forth. His girlfriend also recalled a strange incident when they attended a Symphonia concert. In the second half, David had taken off his glasses and had become very quiet. At the end of the performance, during applause, he was still in this state. His girlfriend elbowed him, then poked him, trying to get him out of his frozen state. When he snapped out of it, he said that he didn’t know what had happened. He had experienced a black-out of sorts.

A friend of Laniet’s recalled her saying that her brother David had called a family meeting on the Sunday night before the shootings. Did he summons everyone as part of an elaborate execution plan?

David said that he arrived home at 6:42 after doing his paper round. Yet he only called triple-one at 7:09, leaving a 25-minute window. He went to his room, kicked off his shoes, went down to the laundry, back to his bedroom, discovered his mother, then his father. Other than that, he had no recollection what else occurred during that time. He told investigators about the incident at the Symphonia concert and said he believed he had blacked out again.

Another strange inconsistency was picked up by investigators. In his first statement, David said that he discovered his mother’s body, then he called for his dad, as he was scared. He went to go and look for his dad, but then found his body in the living room. He did not go around the house looking for his siblings. Yet, when he called 111, he clearly said: “THEY are all dead…” How did he know?

Mark Buckley, a friend of David’s, came forward and said that David had once told him that he liked the girl who lived across the road from the Bains. David said that he had worked out a plan, in which he’d be able to rape her and get away with it. In David’s plan, he would use his paper round as his alibi, as he could deliver some papers earlier before anyone was awake, and others, as people were leaving, seeing him deliver the newspapers at the usual time. This planned fantasy is eerily close to actual events that occurred on that fateful Monday morning.

A week before the shootings, Margaret told a friend that she was concerned about David because he was having hallucinations and dark premonitions. Margaret also told her sister that she was going to talk to David about how he was treating his siblings. She felt it wasn’t his place to tell them what to do, he was not their father. They had a father and David needed to know his place.

But all of this was circumstantial evidence, hearsay. Investigators knew that they needed physical evidence if they wanted to arrest David Bain. And it wasn’t too hard to find. Four of David’s fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, David’s own Winchester semi-automatic .22 calibre rifle. There was also a palm print made by Stephen on the silencer, as he probably tried to push the gun away.

When David was found by police, he had no blood on his hands. There was also blood on the phone he used to call emergency services. By his own admission, he had washed his hands in the laundry. But it wasn’t only black ink from the newspapers on his hands. In the laundry, there were blood smears on the washing machine, as well as the laundry detergent box. A small drop of blood was found in the washing basin.

A green sweater that was washed by David that morning matched fibres found under Stephen’s nails. At first, David said the sweater was Arawa’s, but later changed his story and said it was Robin’s. The same sweater, rubbed up against door frames in the house, making blood smears.

David had injuries on his forehead and a scrape on his knee. His knuckles were reddened, and he had scrape marks on his chest. David could not explain these injuries. Police concluded that it was most likely from the struggle with Stephen. What strengthened this theory was that, on the clothes David was wearing when police arrived, they found specs of Stephen’s blood. David’s bloodied opera gloves, as well as a lens from eyeglasses, were found in Stephen’s room. In David’s bedroom was a pair of glasses, missing one lens.

Droplets of blood were also found on the top of David’s socks. Five bloodied sock footprints were found in Margaret’s room, then the track led into Laniet’s room and backed out again. The footprint evidence became very significant in the case. We will explore the details a bit later.

Four days after the family shooting at 65 Every Street, police arrested David Bain. During the first days in custody – he had various fits and black-outs. Police felt he had faked it. When an officer who knew David, as he was friends with his son, told him to cut it out, the fits stopped.

David maintained his innocence. He felt victimised and angry, as can be seen in his recollection of his first days in prison:

“There was a mattress on the floor, a bucket in the corner, two blankets and a steel-reinforced door… After all, I had been through in the week… trying to reconcile myself to what had happened; all I could do was cry myself to sleep. After a very restless night, I tried desperately to get somebody to let me go to my family’s funeral, but between the insistence of police and my relatives’ reluctance I was not allowed to attend. Another shattering blow to this day I feel the pain of being denied the basic right of saying goodbye to my family.”

On the 5th of July 1994, two weeks after the murders, on the instruction of the trustees of the Bain family trust (and with the consent of David Bain) the home at 65 Every Street was burnt down by New Zealand Fire Service.

David Bain’s trial started on the 8th of May 1995, and 60 witnesses were called to testify. The whole country looked on, hoping to learn more about what took place inside the Bain home on that cold winter’s morning the year before.

David wore sweaters knitted by his mother when she was still alive to court. They were colourful and outrageous and became a symbol of the case.

David testified in his own defence and said that he loved his family and that they were all very close. He painted a different picture of the dysfunctional family people had learnt about and stated that he respected and loved his father.

The prosecution described David Bain as a ‘disturbed young man’ who had displayed unusual behaviour. The only other possible perpetrator in the prosecution’s view could have been Robin Bain. But based on an expert pathologist’s evidence, he was ruled out as a suspect. Firstly, there was no blood on Robin’s shoes or socks. His fingerprints were not on the rifle, and there was no traces gunpowder on his hands. He was righthanded, and the fatal bullet wound was to his right temple, which is unusual.

The Crown’s case stated that, on the day of the murders, David Bain woke up at 5am and got dressed for the day. He took his .22 calibre Winchester semi-automatic rifle from a wardrobe in his room. He unlocked the trigger lock with a spare key, that was kept in a jar on his desk. His key was usually on a string around his neck, but partaking in a polar plunge, he had left it in the pocket of his anorak, which he left in his dad’s van.

After unlocking the trigger lock, he made his way through the house, killing his mother and siblings, one after the other. 14-year-old Stephen fought back, and a struggle ensued, which is why Stephen was strangled with a T-shirt before he was shot. During the fight, a lens from David’s eyeglasses came out of the frame and fell on the floor.

David noticed the blood on his clothes and went downstairs where he undressed and put his bloodied clothes in the washing machine, and switched it on. He left the house around the usual time of 5:45. To do his newspaper deliveries. On this particular day, he wasted no time and was back home an hour later (at 6:42am), entering through the front door. He switched on his computer at 6:44 and wrote the ‘sorry’ note, to appear to have been written by Robin.

He then waited for his father to come inside like he did every day at 7am. Robin would make his way from the caravan in the garden into the living room where he said his morning prayers. Usually, he also went onto the computer to check his emails. As Robin knelt down, David shot him at very close range, then staged the scene to look like a suicide. After preparing for his next actions, in the 25-minute window, David called emergency services and reported the killings, feigning extreme distress.

The prosecution also questioned the fact that David said he had heard Laniet’s gurgling sounds. That implied that he must have been there moments after she was shot, most likely, in the immediate aftermath. If she was still alive, why didn’t he try to help her? The Crown Prosecution concluded their case, saying that:  

“Only one person could have heard Laniet gurgling. That person is the murderer.”

After deliberating for nine hours, the jury returned with a guilty verdict on all five counts. David Bain was and sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 16 years.

But this case was far from over… Thirteen years later, David was given a retrial and acquitted of all charges. This is one of the most controversial cases in New Zealand criminal history. Join us next week for part two of the Bain Family Murders, and learn why David Bain was found to be an innocent man.

We’d like to thank today’s sponsors, BetterHelp. Take charge of your mental health with the help of a dedicated and experienced professional. To get 10% off your first month go to

If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes.

Also visit and like our Facebook Page at” to see more about today’s case. If you like our podcast, please subscribe in Apple Podcast or wherever you are listening right now.

This was The Evidence Locker. Thank you for listening!

©2020 Evidence Locker Podcast

All rights reserved. This podcast or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a podcast review.