17 Feb 2015

Lundy trial told of vineyard venture

6:07 am on 17 February 2015

Murder accused Mark Lundy repeatedly spoke of a British investor whose £500,000 investment would save his vineyard; the would-be investor was thinking more along the lines of £3000, she told the High Court in Wellington yesterday.

Mr Lundy, 56, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife and daughter, Christine and Amber Lundy, whose bodies were found in their Palmerston North home on 30 August 2000. His retrial, before Justice Simon France and a jury of seven men and five women, is in its second week.

Mark Lundy - Day three of the trial.

Mark Lundy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The Crown contends he killed his wife for her insurance money, and his daughter because she saw what he was doing to her mother.

Main points from day six:

  • Mark Lundy given until 30 August to settle on land he had bought for a vineyard or pay $100,000 in penalty interest. The bodies of his wife and daughter were found that day.
  • The Lundys' Salu Vino vineyard venture needed to raise $2.8 million through shares and mortgage bonds within four months of its prospectus being issued to proceed; it attracted just $108,500.
  • A investor in England Mr Lundy had been pinning his hopes was looking to invest at a level of about £3000 - not the £500,000 he was hoping for.
  • Mr Lundy had a "stress attack" over financial strains a few weeks before his wife and daughter were killed.
  • Life insurance agent Bruce Parson recommended the Lundys increase their life insurance from $200,000 to $1 million but they could not afford the premiums, so opted for $500,000. However, the policy document had not yet been issued so the old rate of $200,000 applied.

A New Zealand woman who lived in Britain in 2000 yesterday said a family friend told her of a proposed vineyard looking for investors - the Lundys' Salu Vino venture.

She expressed interest in seeing a prospectus.

"I enjoyed wine and I was interested in seeing what the proposal was about," the woman, who has name suppression, said.

She was "mostly interested in the free cases of wine" offered on the investment, and was looking to invest about £3000.

Instead she received an email directly from Mr Lundy outlining what the return would be on £526,000 - the amount he believed she had to invest.

Mr Lundy said for that investment, which converted to $NZ1,750,000 at the time, she could expect a 15 percent return plus 500 cases of wine free and 2500 at cost.

The woman said she simply turned off the computer as the proposal was so far removed from her reality she did not even know how to respond to it. She did not have that sort of money, or know anyone who did - then or now, she said.

The court was earlier told Mr Lundy signed up to buy 44 hectares of land to set up a vineyard, with the contract due to go unconditional before he had secured finance.

The land comprised two parcels, one owned by Chris Morrison, who wanted $700,000, and the other by Doug Twigg, who wanted $1.3 million.

Landowner and vineyard/orchard contractor Michael Porter put the deal together and Mr Porter told the court Mr Lundy missed the first settlement date in March, and then subsequent dates.

Mr Morrison told Mr Porter in July he had another buyer and that Mr Lundy was to be given until 30 August to pay up; if he did not he would face a $100,000 penalty interest bill, as well as losing the land.

Mr Porter told Mr Lundy in July of the impending deadline, and then rung him again on 28 August - two days before it.

"That was when he said that 'if you do this, you realise you're going to send me bankrupt'," Mr Porter said.

"He was quite short with his words. He wasn't like he had been before."

However, Mr Lundy remained optimistic he had an investor and asked for a bit more time.

Mr Morrison said he spoke to Mr Lundy in July about the continued settlement delays.

"He was still very positive. He was apologetic about the delays," he said.

Mr Lundy told Mr Morrison the delays were caused by documentation issues, and that he believed the only problem would be an excess of investors; in fact, only about $108,500 of the minimum $2.8 million needed for the venture to proceed was raised.

The trial continues.

* 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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