BLACK HANDS - A family mass murder

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It's June 20, 1994. Police are called to a rundown home in Dunedin, New Zealand. They're not sure what to expect after a panicked phone call. But inside were five dead bodies, a chaotic scene and and several clues pointing to the killer.
By any standard, this family was unusual, even bizarre. Mother Margaret Bain's complicated spiritual life   and beliefs meant the family was constantly encouraged to put Satan behind them. She practised self hypnosis, meditation and channelling. Their life in Papua New Guinea helped to concentrate the family's oddness. How did it influence the slaughter?  
From the outside, the Bain family seemed to have settled into a new life in Dunedin. Eldest son David was on a new path, while sister Laniet appeared to have given up prostitution and Arawa was thriving as a budding teacher. But in the six months before the shootings, cracks began to emerge.
The shootings appalled the country and deeply shocked the community and wider Bain family. Yet sole survivor David Bain's unusual reaction surprised many. Loyalties were tested. Suspicions were raised. And then an arrest is made.
Motive has always been the most puzzling aspect of the Bain shootings. Neither Robin nor David seemed like mass killers. But both had reasons to kill.
Although police initially regarded the shootings as a murder/suicide, evidence began to mount against David Bain. His fingerprints were on the rifle, he had blood on his T-shirt, a lens from glasses in his bedroom were found in his dead brother's room and he had injuries consistent with a fight.
If Robin murdered his wife and children, his final task would be to shoot himself. But how likely is it that a right-handed man would shoot himself in the left temple? Is it even possible?
Despite giving evidence in court only once, David Bain has said a lot about the shootings in various contexts. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence but the details of his story have changed. How plausible is it?    
The equation is simple: It had to be either Robin or David. Now it's time to make a decision.
Each day Stuff journalists Adam Dudding and Eugene Bingham take a closer look at the Covid-19 pandemic from a New Zealand perspective. Subscription links at For more Coronavirus coverage see
This story also rocked a nation. On November 28, 1979, an Air New Zealand jet took off from Auckland Airport on a sightseeing trip to Antarctica. There were 257 people on board. Hours later everyone was dead.This new podcast from Stuff and RNZ explores the shocking story of New Zealand’s deadliest disaster.The renowned investigative journalist behind Black Hands, Martin van Beynen, thought you may want to know about it.
If you've enjoyed Black Hands, we want to let you know about the District. This is a 7 part crime podcast that delves into one of New Zealand's most famous murder cases. It's also about another strange death and how the two cases collide. It's all available now. We hope you enjoy it.
If you’ve enjoyed Black Hands, we want to let you know about Gone Fishing, New Zealand’s latest major crime podcast.Co-produced by Stuff and RNZ, this eight-part series dives into an historic murder mystery set in west Auckland. Gail Maney served a life sentence for ordering the murder of Deane Fuller-Sandys, who disappeared in 1989. But Gail insists she's innocent, saying she never even met Deane. In fact, she doesn’t think he was murdered at all. She thinks he’d just – gone fishing.In Part 1 of Gone Fishing, The Fire, Gail Maney is sitting at home when the police knock on her door, asking questions about a murder they think happened eight years earlier … Parts 1-3 were released on June 25 and the remaining episodes are being released daily till June 30. Listen on:Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Gone Fishing homepage
In 2012 Canadian judge Justice Binnie said David Bain was innocent on the balance of probabilities. Why? Hear what Binnie says and what Martin van Beynen makes of his arguments. And why does Binnie compare van Beynen to Inspector Javert, a fictitious fanatical police inspector?
Coming soon from Stuff: A groundbreaking new podcast series on the most controversial murders in New Zealand history - the killing of five members of the Bain family in 1994.
Could Robin have murdered his children and then taken his own life? Robin had blood and bruising on his hands. His foot size was more likely to fit bloody footprints in the house. Was a mysterious note left on the family computer Robin's final words?
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Podcast Details

Created by
Podcast Status
Jul 22nd, 2017
Latest Episode
Sep 17th, 2017
Release Period
6 per year
Avg. Episode Length
31 minutes

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