i've been meaning to do a post about laniet bain for a while now, but have been unable to get to it. the first reason was after seeing the bryan bruce documentary "the case against robin bain" on tv, but i feel more strongly about this after having the read the book "the mask of sanity" by james mcneish.
in effect, both journalists come to the same conclusion about laniet bains: that she is a liar and totally fabricated a story about incest occurring between herself and her father robin bain. they use some similar reasoning, in that the story she told about being pregnant and having a child in papua new guinea as a girl of around 11 or 12 is not supported by autopsy evidence. neither is there any evidence from PNG, amongst the many people who interacted with the bains family, to support this. therefore, because she lied about having a baby in her youth, she must be a pathological liar, and is lying about the incest.
which is pretty much nonsense. a person may lie about one thing and tell the truth about another. or tell a lie to cover up a truth that she is unwilling to tell or to deal with. or tell a lie in an attempt to get attention or to divert attention.
there were other points that annoyed me. mr bruce, for example, used evidence of photographs and video clips from laniet's childhood in which, he said, there was nothing "to suggest a family hiding a dark secret". he makes this point to prove that laniet could not have been raped and had at around 11 or 12 years of age. but it doesn't mean she wasn't a victim of incest. many victims are used to putting on a happy face to the public, and can certainly do so for the short time that a photograph or video clip is taken. if a child has been groomed, they may be going through a period of not realising that what is happening to them is unusual or wrong. or it could simply be that the incest happened after the date those photographs were taken and the video clips made.
the main problem, of course, is that we don't have anything directly from laniet alleging incest - no diary, video recording, correspondence or anything else that could be considered first hand evidence. all we have are second-hand accounts. one of these was from a mr cottle who has so far managed to avoid testifying at two trials and was allegedly her pimp.
i think mr bruce did a pretty good job of probing into one of the other witnesses. mr mcneish also shows that that evidence of yet another witness who wasn't heard at the first trial was pretty ambiguous. for example, when laniet said she was going to reveal "everything" to her family in the weekend before the murders, that "everything" could have referred to prostitution & drug use rather than to incest. the meaning was quite unclear.
however, not having read the transcripts of the second trial, i don't know what all the witnesses on this matter said, and what the totality of their testimony might have proved.
but the way mr mcneish portrays laniet, and a couple of the points he makes are a little disturbing. for example, on page 214 of the book he writes:
Against this one has to remember Laniet's state of mind and the context of those years when there was a fashion among young women for "recovered memories" of abuse and incest.
a fashion??? this is a book which spends a considerable amount discussing amnesia that victims or perpetrators of crime can suffer due to the trauma of the event. he includes interviews from various experts on just this topic of repressed memories, and the possibility that david bain has repressed any memory of committing the murder. yet when it comes to matters of abuse or incest, the recovery of repressed memory was supposedly fashionable rather than real? i found this line in the book to be particularly offensive in writing off any possibility of incest.
mr mcneish's book is good when it relates to discussion of the trial and the evidence presented, and also pretty good in uncovering the family history of the bains in PNG and in dunedin. but when he starts putting forward his own interpretation (basically part 2 of the book), he goes in some wierd directions. admittedly margaret bain's diary appears to have some pretty disturbing stuff in it including serious dabbling in the occult, but to paint her as a sorceress who "castrated, psychologically" (p 213) david bain and who "kidnapped" robin bain's will to leave the marriage due to her controlling ways? i think that interpretation of the facts is a little skewed.
just for the record, my personal opinion is that david bain is guilty and to me it's the sum of the evidence against david bain - the bruises on his face and knee, the broken glasses and gloves, the fingerprints on the gun and elsewhere - and the lack of forensic evidence against robin bain. despite that, i really don't like the way that laniet's claims of incest have been dismissed as lies. i think, if there's going to be another episode about this truly awful tragedy, then it should be the case against laniet, from someone who doesn't want to dismiss her as a liar.