Mark Lundy: The story so far

Mark Lundy: The story so far
Photo credit: Newshub.

Mark Lundy's appeal against his 2015 conviction for killing his wife and daughter will be heard in court on Tuesday.

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

Christine, 38, was found in bed with serious injuries to her face and arms. Amber, seven, was found face-down with a head wound in the bedroom doorway.

Lundy, then 43, was arrested six months later and charged with their murders. He was found guilty of both at his trial in 2002 and sentenced to life, but always maintained his innocence.

The conviction was overturned by the Privy Council in 2013, which ordered a retrial. In 2015, a second jury convicted Lundy of killing his wife and daughter.

The original trial

According to the original Crown case in 2002, Lundy spoke to Christine by phone at 5:43pm. He was in Petone and she was in Palmerston North, about 140km away. He then is said to have driven to Palmerston North, carry out the murders, hide the evidence, change the clock on the family computer, change his clothes, don a wig, and drive back to Petone all by 8:28pm, when he made another call before hooking up with a prostitute.

His motive? A $500,000 life insurance policy on his wife that would have helped the struggling businessman pay his debts.

A private investigator who tried to replicate the trip told the Listener in 2004 it was impossible. The murder weapon was never found.

Lundy was convicted largely on the strength of DNA evidence - brain tissue was found on his shirt - and testimony from a pathologist that the pair died between 7pm and 7:15pm based on the contents of their stomachs.

At his wife's funeral, Lundy was filmed and photographed looking visibly distraught and struggling to walk.

The first appeal

Lundy's appeal against his convictions was rejected. His original minimum non-parole period of 17 years was increased to 20, so he wouldn't be eligible for release until 2022. It was, at the time, the longest non-parole period ever handed down in New Zealand for a life sentence (longer non-parole lengths have been issued for serial rapists, including Malcolm Rewa).

The Privy Council

In 2013 the case was brought before the Privy Council in the UK, eligible because the original trial took place before the establishment of the New Zealand Supreme Court in 2004.

The council said there was enough new evidence, as well as doubt over the methods used to determine the exact times of Christine and Amber's deaths, that a retrial should be held.

"In light of the new evidence, Mr Lundy's conviction could not be considered safe," a summary of the Privy Council's ruling read.

"Since the trial, a 'welter of evidence' from reputable consultants has cast doubt on the methods the crown had relied on to establish the time of death based on the contents of the victims' stomachs."

The retrial

The 2015 retrial lasted 36 days and cost taxpayers more than $2 million. The jury deliberated for more than 16 hours before deciding to re-convict him.

The Crown changed its story, now saying Lundy committed the murders in the dead of night, rather than the early evening. Amber was "collateral damage", according to prosecutor Philip Morgan QC, after the noise in her parents' bedroom woke her up and she went to investigate.

The second appeal

In August 2017, through his support group Factual (For Amber and Christine, Truth Uncovered About Lundys), the 58-year-old released a number of handwritten letters proclaiming his innocence.

He said while he respected the jury's "opinion", he "could not commit such a heinous crime".

"It is wrong and as a believer in the truth I will always fight against it. Any innocent man must."

He called this week's appeal "my latest attempt at obtaining justice".

Newshub.

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