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'I would not change anything': Karam

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/08/2016

With David Bain's quest for compensation coming to an end, the man who has stood by his side for twenty years says he's got no regrets.

Mr Bain this week accepted an ex-gratia payment of $925,000 by the government on the condition he waive further legal challenges for compensation for his wrongful conviction of 13 years over the death of five family members in 1994.

Businessman Joe Karam joined Mr Bain's team in 1996 and has been a constant advocate since, at times working full time on the case and losing what he says has been millions of dollars in contributions and time.

As he greeted reporters on Friday, the former All Black Mr Karam proudly held up a beaten-up suitcase he had bought in 1996 for Mr Bain's files, saying he would soon throw it on the bonfire.

Asked if the two decades of work had been worth it, he said although it had been tough, he would do it again.

"There's one or two things I might change about the way I did it, but having been confronted with what I was confronted with, I would not change anything," he said.

"Unquestionably it's been enriching in many ways. But at the same time it's been destructive in many ways." He knew by the end of 1996 "a terrible miscarriage of justice had taken place" and he could not stop from there.

Mr Bain was "50 per cent friend and 50 per cent an adopted family member" and had in 2003 - after an unsuccessful Court of Appeal bid - asked Mr Karam to give up on him for the sake of his own life, he said.

"He said 'Joe, go ahead and get your life back ... I could adjust to prison life and I'll always fight on, but it's breaking my heart seeing you get your heart broken'. But I went home and read the Court of Appeal decision and it was just so bad," Mr Karam said.

"We had a standing joke: every Christmas I would say, 'Next Christmas it'll be ham at my place, David. And that went on for 13 years."

Asked what he would be doing next, Mr Karam joked he would be getting his SuperGold pensioner discount card shortly.

"The last couple years have been pretty tough and I've been working harder than I've ever worked," he said.

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