Woolly thinking

by Joanne Black / 27 June, 2009
The biggest puzzle is that darn jersey.

At the Supreme Court last week, David Bain's legal team sought to maintain two suppression orders relating to evidence the jury was not permitted to hear. At one point in the proceedings, Bain's lawyer, Helen Cull QC, waved around a column by Rosemary McLeod from that morning's Dominion Post.

The column appeared under photos of the five victims. Cull said showing Robin Bain as a victim indicated the media did not accept the jury's verdict. By implication, Cull was saying the court had found that Robin Bain had murdered four family members, then shot himself, and so McLeod's column should have been illustrated with only four victims. This, presumably, was also the view of the juror who hugged David Bain outside the court, and of the two jurors who attended the defence's after-match ­function.

On that basis, the court case was not only David Bain's trial, but also Robin Bain's trial. Yet not one lawyer who appeared before the jury was there with the sole purpose of defending Robin, his actions or his reputation. While David Bain could elect to remain silent rather than give evidence, Robin Bain had no choices.

The idea that Robin was the murderer disturbs me. In particular, one of the suppositions of the case bothers me more than any other. I simply cannot imagine that a man who has just slaughtered four of the five people he loves most in the world would put his bloodied clothes in the laundry before shooting himself. Of all the things you might do in the final minute or two of your life, collecting up the dirty washing surely has to rank among the least likely.

The suggestion that his motivation was altruistic, a desire to spare his only surviving child the trouble of dealing with his father's bloodied clothes, makes no sense. At least, not if you tidy away the jumper but overlook the four bodies, while also planning to leave a fifth. And apart from everything else, picking up his bloodied clothes simply flies in the face of what all women know about men's laundry habits. The very idea that Robin collected up the washing as one of the final acts of his life is as likely as his leaving a note saying: "David, my jersey's in the laundry so would you please put the washing machine on wool cycle?"

Unfortunately, I will be too busy washing my hair to participate in postal voting for the pending referendum, which runs from July 31 to August 21. It is a shame, because the country would hugely benefit from my personal view on the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" There is likely to be debate about the wording, not only from those on both sides of the smacking debate, but also from those who think an improvement would be: "Should taxpayers' hard-earned money be wasted on useless referenda?" If that was considered to be too contentious, and if enough people signed a petition, there could be a referendum asking whether that question should be the subject of a referendum or, alternatively, whether the question should simply be: "Should taxpayers' money be wasted?" The winning question could then form the basis of the next referendum, in which the question would actually be asked.

Or, then again, we could stick with electing a Parliament every three years to make decisions on behalf of the country. Of course, MPs quite often hash it up, but would the country as a whole do any better using ridiculously partisan referenda? No, but just think what shiny hair we would all have.

Imagine you contracted swine flu, had to list your contacts for the previous week, and there were none. I think that would be exactly my situation. This may be the one illness where the only social stigma worse than having it is not having it. It seems rather like the risk of joining Facebook and having no one befriend you. I work from home, so have no colleagues in my office, and since I broke my ankle I go out only when I have to. But being a social outcast has its upsides. Not only is there a very low risk of contagion, but I also have the perfect wardrobe for it.

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