The power of suggestion [updated]
Apparently if you play Donny Osmond’s ‘Puppy Love’ backwards it sounds like he’s singing ‘Kill for the Devil, sinners,’ if you play the Beatles’ song 'I’m So Tired’ backwards it tells you Paul is dead. And if you play Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ backwards (which, let’s be fair, could hardly be worse than playing it forwards), it is supposed to say “Here's to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He'll give those with him 666. There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan." Or something like that.
Some people, frankly, will hear something in anything.
Which brings us to the lastest attempt to hear something out of nothing: the David Bain “heavy breathing” tape. I have it on good authority from some of the world’s most highly-paid experts (i.e., this bloke down the pub told me) that if you play it backwards it sounds like he’s quoting the words to the Macarena. Or is it the Birdy Song. Either way, this bloke swears it’s true.
Which, to be blunt, all makes about as much sense as the theory that he’s saying “I shot the prick” in between hyperventilating. The idea is about as dumb as the decision to exclude it from the trial.
UPDATE: Leighton Smith was asking on his show this morning a question that’s occurred to many people: How come the defence was allowed to present frank speculation about Robin Bain, about Laniet Bain, about her supposed sex life their supposed relationship, but the prosecution appears to have had so much of their evidence ruled out – evidence such as this tape, for example, and the evidence of school mates that a young David had devised a plan to use his paper round as an alibi.
I think the difference here is the rule on “hearsay evidence,” which is that assertions about what someone else might have said are generally inadmissible for the very good reason that what they report as being said was not presented as evidence was not made under oath, and is unable to be cross examined. Witnesses therefore are enjoined to deliver evidence only on what they know directly – as a High Court judge once explained it to a witness, “Is it something you saw, or something that you’ve read.” If it’s neither, then it’s out.
It’s on this basis presumably that what David was supposed to have said when he was a youngster is ruled inadmissible, since it’s a direct example of hearsay – and may be just one reason that David was reluctant to go into the witness box himself, since this is the sort of thing the prosecution could question.
Now, much of the speculation presented by David Bain’s defence team falls into this category too – most of it being evidence of what Laniet told friends, or “work colleagues,” or dairy owners, or people she passed in the street. But since Laniet is what’s called “an unavailable witness” – one whose testimony can’t be presented since they’re not around to answer questions – then the stuff she’s supposed to have said falls under the “hearsay exception” and can therefore be presented to the court.
It’s said that dead men tell no tales. But it could also be said that any defence lawyer worth his salt can easily fix that.