13 Mar 2015

Unidentified fibres not Lundy's, court hears

6:15 am on 13 March 2015

Unidentified fibres found under the fingernails of Christine and Amber Lundy did not come from murder-accused Mark Lundy's polo shirt, an ESR expert says.

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Mark Lundy. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mark Lundy, 56, is accused of murdering his 38-year-old wife, Christine, and seven-year-old daughter, Amber. Their 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.

Key points from day 23:

Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research scientist Sally Coulson, who specialises in trace analyses, yesterday told the court a number of unidentified fibres - all but one of which were polyester or cotton - were found in fingernail scrapings taken from Mrs Lundy and Amber.

However, none matched a polo shirt belonging to Mr Lundy and which three American pathologists have each said had central nervous system tissue - from the brain or spinal cord - on it.

Dr Coulson's colleague, Susan Vintiner, yesterday told the court DNA found on that polo shirt was a billion billion times more likely to be from Mrs Lundy than from someone unrelated and chosen at random.

Ms Vintiner agreed with defence lawyer David Hislop, QC, that someone with a heavy cold and who sneezed or coughed while ironing could leave their DNA on the item they were working on, and that that DNA could stay on the item until at least the next time it was washed.

However, she was critical of the way another forensic expert, yet to give evidence, had interpreted DNA results from blood found in the shower of Mrs Lundy's brother, Glenn Weggery.

That expert's report found the samples were 83 percent similar to Mrs Lundy and 88 percent to Amber - figures arrived at by measuring peaks in the samples.

"Personally I think it's a very misleading way of presenting the evidence," Ms Vintiner said.

That was because there was no proper way of looking at evidential weight, she said.

"If that was all that you needed to do then we could all be DNA experts.

"It's something that we would never do in our laboratory. You may make an observation ... but the important thing is to be able to present a statistic. If you cannot unravel the profile, then you are of no assistance in interpreting that mix."

Mr Lundy's retrial, before Justice Simon France and a jury of seven men and five women, is in its fifth week and is expected to go for at least eight.

*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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