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  • Help for wrongly convicted

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    A leading forensic scientist is launching a charity for people who have been wrongly convicted.
    Dr Anna Sandiford, an expert defence adviser at the 2009 acquittal of murder accused David Bain, has held initial talks with well-placed supporters such as lawyers, legal academics and professional investigators.
    Auckland-based Sandiford said that she plans to launch the organisation this year, fearing outdated legal processes and cuts in legal aid funding are leading to a rising number of wrongful imprisonments.

    "There is a need for an organisation that meets what I see as a gap in the system," she said. "If you are convicted at your first trial it is incredibly difficult to get anything beyond that reassessed. After conviction you are in a legal minefield."Sandiford said an inadequate police investigation, substandard forensic science and a poorly prepared defence were the main causes of wrongful imprisonment.

    "If you have one or more of those elements present in any case you increase the chances of a miscarriage of justice," she said. "The first two of these are always present prior to the first trial and in a lot of cases these don't get examined closely enough." Sandiford moved to New Zealand from the UK in 2008 and heads a consultancy called The Forensic Group. She said legal aid cutbacks mean Crown prosecutors have far better funding than most defendants.

    She believed the cuts also mean some overseas expert witnesses are reluctant to offer their services.
    "An Australian expert recently told me he will never take on another case here because it can take several months to get paid. His fee was around $2000 and he was considering treating it as an unrecoverable debt. This is becoming a national and international embarrassment to New Zealand."

    Sandiford insisted her charity group would not be a vehicle for criminals attempting to evade rightful justice. Criminal Bar Association chairman Tony Bouchier welcomed Sandiford's plans. "Other countries have Innocence Project groups for people who have been wrongly convicted and it is time we had something similar here," he said. "Cutbacks in legal aid mean poor people in particular are being denied access to an appropriate defence for financial reasons and that is wrong."

    Associate law professor Bill Hodge of Auckland University cautioned Sandiford's group would be viewed with some suspicion. "However, if an organisation like this is necessary it is a pretty strong condemnation of our present legal aid system," he added.

    Government stand on Bain payout a puzzle
    Dr Anna Sandiford is baffled at the Government dragging its heels over David Bain's compensation application.Justice Minister Judith Collins said this week a decision could be delayed because of legal action Bain was taking against her decisions.Collins rejected retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie's recommendation for compensation as flawed with serious errors.

    Sandiford gave expert evidence at Bain's retrial in 2009. She concluded he could not have made sock prints left at the scene . "The politicians wanted an independent person with no knowledge of the case to come in and look at it with fresh, unbiased eyes. Binnie did that, they didn't like it," she said. "Why even bother if you are not going to take on board what is said?"

    Sandiford said she believed David Bain's father Robin, also found dead from gunshot wounds at the Dunedin house in 1995, was far more likely to have been the killer. "I didn't see any scientific evidence that suggested David Bain."

    • Corrigenda
      #1
      Corrigenda commented
      Editing a comment
      If Dr Anna Sandford is baffled by the stand taken by Judith Collins, then she is easily baffled, as the Binnie report is so biased and full of errors it is not funny. Also the way the footprint tests were done was so outlandish no-one could be tied to them. It is common knowledge that so- called expert witnesses give evidence to support whoever is paying their fees. Also known is the fact that expert findings are ignored if one comes up with other than the desired results. eg, the Australian expert who was hired by the Bain defence team but was never called as his conclusion was that Robin Bain could not have committed suicide.

    • Fordperfect
      #2
      Fordperfect commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Corrigenda
      If Dr Anna Sandford is baffled by the stand taken by Judith Collins, then she is easily baffled, as the Binnie report is so biased and full of errors it is not funny. Also the way the footprint tests were done was so outlandish no-one could be tied to them. It is common knowledge that so- called expert witnesses give evidence to support whoever is paying their fees. Also known is the fact that expert findings are ignored if one comes up with other than the desired results. eg, the Australian expert who was hired by the Bain defence team but was never called as his conclusion was that Robin Bain could not have committed suicide.
      The expert evidence give in the trial was panned by the judge as more or less pointless as it proved nothing the foot prints in the house were made after stepping on a carpet with blood soaked into it. The judge was critical of both crown and defence so called "expert" witnesses for the method used to prove points, to use the method used gives some advantage to their client as opposed to acting in the interest of the court and if defence evidence is inculpatory, the expert witness is ethically bound to say so. the prosecution has the same duty. for a defence expert to assert without proof another expert is wrong is disgusting in the extreme. The NAS report frequently criticised 'expert witnesses' of using junk science to advance the case of their client. the method used in R v Bain by 'Experts' to test the foot print is as junk as it could possibly be. I guess if you have been well paid to achieve a not guilty verdict your are going to get a bit upset when it transpires the investigating Judge used the tests panned by the Trial judge as useless to set as the benchmark measure to evaluate and discard crown evidence. A person seeking to see justice done must be open to the thought that the person alleging a miscarriage may in fact be guilty. As stated above a report sought from an armourer in Australia which did not agree with the Defence's wanted suicide possible outcome so the Report remained with the Victoria Police Armoury unpaid for, for several years until a police officer there to collect Crown Test was asked what was going on with the report and when were they going to be paid for it as they were sick of having the results laying around and they wanted paid. Given the unfavourable result it allowed the defence years to search world wide to find "experts" who would say what they wanted. That the Police officer returned with the report allowed the defence to ignore the report which is clear Robin Bain could not have committed Suicide. Does the defence forensic seeking to commence a justice site have expertise in suicide wound recognition to assert the she has no doubt he committed 4 murders and committed suicide without getting any blood on himself except his own that he had not washed his hands and in spite of blood being on the weapon and finger prints of Steven on the extension which the defence expert in his demonstration held onto to steady the weapon in spite of a rod to steady the angle which Robin Bain did not have to assist him steady the weapon but which I'm sure had he actually committed suicide he would have still found hard and required the assist of a spare person to help him. It would be helpful if that person come forward as it would clear up the suicide matter.
      It would also helpful if the page administrator did not make comments about a matter before the High Court supporting a litigant in that action.

    • yellowfattybeans
      #3
      yellowfattybeans commented
      Editing a comment
      David Bain is so obviously the killer it's ridiculous. The only people who think he is innocent either have no knowledge of the case, are idealistic and arrogant conspiracy theorists who think that everybody who says they are innocent must be (especially nerdy looking caucasian boys), or are very stupid. Does the Dr want "justice" for more people like David Bain? If so, God help us all. There have been some terribly unsafe convictions the world over including in NZ, but David Bain's is not one of them. Take a look at this site, it makes the point so much better than I ever could. : http://davidbain.counterspin.co.nz/
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