As it happened: Lundy lawyer claims 'obvious shortcomings' in scientific testing

Fifteen years after he was first convicted for murdering his wife and daughter, Mark Lundy faces the Court of Appeal in Wellington, in his latest attempt to have the conviction overturned.

Christine and Amber Lundy were bludgeoned to death in their Palmerston North home on the evening of August 29, 2000, or early the next morning.

Mark Lundy was charged with their murders six months later, and was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2002.

The conviction was overturned by the Privy Council the following year, but a 2015 retrial again found Lundy guilty.

Backed by his support group, Factual (For Amber and Christine, Truth Uncovered About Lundys) this is his second appeal.

"As a believer in the truth, I will always fight against it," he says. "Any innocent man must."

He describes this as "my latest attempt at obtaining justice".

2:19pm The Court of Appeal hearing into Mark Lundy's murder conviction resumes, with lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC reiterating the shortcomings of IHC as a testing process for brain tissue in this case.

The defence had successfully challenged this process at the Privy Council, but IHC evidence was reinstated in the second murder trial, after further testing suggested it was sound.

"The main issue at the Privy Council was it was novel and we had an unusual factual scenario that this IHC was carried out on a sample that wasn't preserved clinically," says Mr Eaton.

He hints that the defence may have erred in accepting subsequent expert opinion that the testing was legitimate.

"What resonates is a concern that you have forensic science that has obvious shortcomings and then the court admitting it, without having a full and comprehensive understanding of it and what its limitations may be."

This hearing is scheduled for two days, but judges suggest they would be prepared to roll over into Thursday.

"These are important issues being addressed, so nobody should leave here think they  haven't had a fair crack at saying everything they needed to say," says Hon Justice Cooper.

Just after 4pm, the court is adjourned until 10am tomorrow.

11:50am Judges re-enter the court and defence lawyer Jonathan Eaton QC issues a correction to his claim that original suspects had not been reconsidered once the timeframes for the murders had been re-assessed years later.

"There was evidence that those suspects nominated were reconsidered and eliminated."

While the murders were originally believed to have occurred on the evening of August 29, the crown later changed this to early the following morning.

Mr Eaton paints a scenario where Lundy supposedly drinks half a bottle of rum, spends two hours with an escort, drives quietly to Palmerston North, commits the murders, disposes of evidence and returns quietly to Wellington to visit customers the next morning.

"In the midst of all this, he's committed two murders that, on the face of it, could only be committed by somebody absolutely engrossed with rage and out of control... yet he's had the clarity of thought to immediately get rid of everything.

"If he is the guilty party, there has been a very unlikely string of coincidences for it to come together.

"There were no coincidences... these arose because he is not the offender."

Mr Eaton also claims skin found under the fingernails of both victims were attributed to a male - possibly the same one - but not Lundy.

He says specks of Christine Lundy's blood found on her husband's shirt were dried and consistent with an existing wound.

Judges spend considerable time quizzing Mr Eaton on his claims that IHC was not a credible process to test the DNA found on Lundy's shirt.

At 1:05pm, court is adjourned until 2:15pm

10:15am The clerk announces the arrival of judges - Hon Justice Cooper, Hon Justice Winkelmann and Hon Justice Asher - for CA232, the matter of Mark Edward Lundy and the Queen.

Media is warned to comply with the guidelines set down for live streaming and also to observe existing name suppressions set down in the High Court.

Hamilton-based Philip Morgan QC and Palmerston North Crown solicitor Ben Vanderkolk are representing the Crown. Jonathan Eaton QC and Julie-Anne Kincade are appearing for Lundy.

Lundy is not present in court.

Mr Eaton suggests a review of the scientific methods used in the conviction and developments over the past 15 years will form the basis of Lundy's appeal.

“At the heart of this appeal is untested and novel science in relation to criminal justice.”

He describes this as an "extraordinary case with unique and novel history". 

No other case has had so many fact in dispute and denied, only to be accepted as fact, claims Mr Eaton.

Lundy was convicted partially on the strength of brain tissue found on his clothing, but Mr Eaton claims the process (IHC) was usually used for detecting disease and had not been utilised for that legal purpose anywhere else.

He also addresses the public perception of Lundy as "a big fat so-and-so, he was with an escort on the night and did you see his unconvincing performance at the funeral - therefore he's guilty".

Mr Eaton describes the alleged financial motive for the murders was "weak", and there was disparity between the alleged murder weapon and paint samples that supposedly linked it to Lundy.

He also questions whether it was fair for the Crown to argue that mileage travelled in nine unaccounted-for days suggested he could have made the return trip from Wellington to Palmerston North to commit the murders.

"We all accept that the offender must have been covered head-to-toe with brain matter," says Mr Eaton. 

"Mr Lundy was spoken to literally a few hours after the alleged murders and he's got rid of everything. He's wearing a ring, he's wearing spectacles, he's wearing a watch, all forensically examined - nothing.

"Nothing except two spots on his polo shirt and how did the police know the polo shirt was relevant - because he told them."

Defence claims the matter on the shirt included animal DNA, like that of processed meat from food. 

Court is adjourned for 15 minutes at 11:35am.

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