26 Mar 2015

Closing arguments in Lundy trial

5:57 pm on 26 March 2015

Christine and Amber Lundy were brutally killed in their Palmerston North home in a crime which left brain everywhere, the High Court in Wellington has been told.

Mark Lundy on the 25/03/2015 before his defence brings out their witness.

Mark Lundy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

There seems little doubt the Crown and defence both agree with those fundamental facts, but where they disagree is on who is to blame.

Mark Lundy, 56, is accused of murdering his 38-year-old wife and seven-year-old daughter, whose bodies were found in their Palmerston North home on 30 August 2000; the Crown claims Mr Lundy killed his wife for her insurance money and Amber because she saw what he was doing to her mother.

The prosecution and defence have wound up more than six weeks of evidence. Crown prosecutor Philip Morgan, QC, has presented his closing argument and lead defence lawyer David Hislop, QC, has started giving his.

Mr Hislop said reliability, credibility, consistency and integrity all had to be considered - and questioned how credible witnesses who had given evidence one way at Mr Lundy's first trial could be considered credible when they gave a different version now.

Mr Lundy was convicted of the crime in 2002 but the Privy Council overturned the finding in 2013 and ordered a retrial.

Mr Hislop said pathologist James Pang had put the time of death at 7-7.15pm in the first trial but now said the only certainty was that it occurred in the 14 hours before they were found.

Mark Lundy's lead lawyer David Hislop, QC

Mark Lundy's lead lawyer David Hislop, QC Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Forensic computer analyst Maarten Kleintjes had said a shutdown time showing the Lundys' computer was turned off of 10.52pm was manipulated but now said that was not the case, Mr Hislop said.

As well, he denied ever examining a laptop Mr Lundy had said was in the office to see if its shutdown time was similar to that of the computer.

"It's not rocket science. It beggars belief that they didn't do it."

Mr Hislop urged the jury to approach its task calmly and dispassionately, and said the fact there was brain on Mr Lundy's shirt was not what the case should be decided on.

"Of course there were two horrible, horrible deaths, and of course there was brain everywhere."

However, it could have got there through contamination; the first time the substance was identified as central nervous system (CNS) tissue was after it had been turned into paraffin blocks for testing in the United States.

"We don't carry a burden to prove contamination. They have to prove that it wasn't."

It had also not been proven that the CNS was human, Mr Hislop said.

'No husband should have his wife's brain on their shirt'

But in his closing, Mr Morgan said the most compelling evidence was "Mark Lundy had Christine Lundy's brain on his shirt".

A number of experts, both prosecution and defence, had all agreed matter found on Mr Lundy's polo shirt was CNS tissue from the brain or spine.

"The Crown's case, members of the jury, is that he's the killer, and he's the killer because he had his wife's brain on his shirt.

"No husband should have his wife's brain on their shirt."

Lead prosecutor Philip Morgan, QC at the Mark Lundy trial.

Lead prosecutor Philip Morgan, QC Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

However, that was not the only thing which pointed to him as the killer, he said; his car had unaccounted for kilometres on it, its petrol consumption did not add up and a fellow inmate of Mr Lundy's - known as Witness X - said the accused told him he was only there because his daughter had seen what he was doing to his wife.

Mr Lundy's car had both mileage and petrol discrepancies which proved he had taken a secret round trip from the Petone motel he was staying in, while on business selling sinks in the capital, and his home in Palmerston North - a "killing trip".

"There's no way in the world that when he made the killing trip, the one sometime after 1am in the morning up to Palmerston North, where the killings occurred, that he was driving like a mad thing," Mr Morgan said.

"The last thing he wanted was to draw attention to himself."

Mr Morgan said Mr Lundy's car told the story of the "killing trip"; it had 80,589km on the clock when it was serviced on 21 August. Nine days later, when Mr Lundy was stopped as he drove into Palmerston North, it had 81,859km on it. The difference was 1270km but using Mr Lundy's accounts of his travel and cellphone records, the distance he travelled was actually only 847km, plus a bit for local travel.

The 423km left was more than enough for the about 300km round trip from Petone to Palmerston North to carry out the killings, he said.

"The car tells us how far he travelled the shirt tells us where he went and who he did this to," Mr Morgan said.

"Witness X tells us why Amber had to go, too.

"This was committed by somebody who wanted to wipe Christine Lundy off the face of the earth.

"Amber was collateral damage."

Mr Lundy was the killer, and the jury should find him guilty, Mr Morgan concluded.

*Clarification - For the avoidance of doubt, please note that Radio New Zealand reporter Sharon Lundy is no relation to Mark Lundy.

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