Mark Lundy murder retrial: Day 28

  • Breaking
  • 18/03/2015

Mark Lundy's defence lawyers have questioned police about a former colleague of Christine Lundy who had a history of violence.

The man, who has name suppression, had a history of stalking women he worked with and had previously been committed to a psychiatric ward after stabbing someone.

Lundy's retrial for the murder of Christine, 38, and Amber, 7, is into its sixth week in the Wellington High Court.

While being cross-examined, Detective Jennifer Curran of the Palmerston North CIB was quizzed about inquiries early in the case. 

Police questioned both the man and his parents, who he lived with about his whereabouts on the night of the murders.

"He said that he was asleep at home during the evening and he remained there all night, both his parents have been interviewed and also stated that they think their son was at home but they can't be completely sure," defence lawyer Ross Burns said.

"Therefore at the time police believe the crime was committed his whereabouts cannot be verified."

The defence says when police investigated him they believed Christine and amber were killed in the early evening - not later that night.

Lundy rushed home after bodies found

Det Curran, who interviewed Lundy on the days following the murders, said he told police how he averaged between 140km/h and 160km/h while travelling to Palmerston North the day his wife and daughter's bodies were found.

She read the statement Lundy gave to police following the discovery of the pair's bodies on August 30, 2000.

Lundy recounted his movements on that day, which began with waking up in his motel room in Petone.

He woke up around 7am, showered and ironed his shirt. His shaver batteries had died, and he went down to reception to ask if they had any – they didn’t.

Lundy checked out and paid the bill.

Just after 8am, he drove to a nearby lunch bar where he bought batteries and a bacon and egg sandwich. He shaved and ate breakfast before heading to his first appointment.

"I made my first cell phone call of the day to Christine. Karen Keenan answered the phone and said Christine was tied up or couldn't come to the phone."

He thought Christine's family might have been at the house or someone had come to pick up a sink from the business they run out of their home.

"At that stage I didn't know there was anything wrong," he said.

Lundy tried to call Christine multiple times to try to get an address for a client, but no one answered.

He also tried to get in touch with her via friends and other people the couple knew.

"I was starting to get worried."

He continued with a number of business calls around the Wellington region and was in Johnsonville around 11:30am.

He received a call from a friend who'd told him he should get back home soon. The man said he didn't know what has happening, but had seen police at his house and that they were investigating a suspicious death.

Lundy "took off" back to Palmerston North, saying he'd averaged between 140 km/h and 160km/h. He recalled being stopped by police on Tremain Ave, where he was taken back to the police station to give a statement.

"I was told it wasn't good news," the statement read.

"I remember asking where Amber was."

Jury gets look into Lundys' life

Earlier today, the jury got a glimpse into Lundy's life with Christine and Amber.

In his statement, he detailed his "happy marriage" with Christine, but said they had their ups and downs.

They'd always been able to work through their differences, he said. The couple even "grossed out" their nieces and nephews with their public displays of affection.

There had been excitement at the home that week because a new product had arrived for their kitchen sink business.

He said the rest of the week until the deaths had been "mundane" and nothing out of the ordinary.

Lundy described the household, saying one of the four rooms had been converted into their office - one of the passwords they used was Amberville.

Det Curran recalled a moment during the first day of Lundy giving his statement, when Lundy admitted to being "a bit of a naughty boy" for using an escort.

Lundy had asked for his comment not to be recorded as he said it, so was recorded by Det Curran in a more formal way.

He told Det Curran the couple had not had an active sexual relationship and were seeing a specialist because they were having trouble conceiving a second child after Amber.

Lundy said Amber was a heavy sleeper, while Christine was a light sleeper.

Amber would normally read in her room from about 7pm to 8pm, sometimes later, though never after 9pm.

Lundy said he would do most of the cooking for the family, and while he was away on business it was likely that Christine would buy takeaways.

Flaws in Lundy brain testing - expert

German forensic science expert Dr Marialle Vennemann says an untried test for brain matter used to figure out what was on Mark Lundy's polo shirt was not "fit for purpose".

Earlier in the trial, Dutch scientist Dr Laetitia Sijen of the Netherlands Forensic Institute told the court of the new test developed to detect RNA from brain matter specifically for the Lundy case.

The defence suggested that meant the test was experimental, but Dr Sijen said it still followed the accepted methodology for tests for organs and cell matter, as well as bodily fluids.

Not all tests done showed the presence of brain matter RNA in the sample and the tests on the front pocket of the shirt had no observable brain matter.

Today, Dr Vennemann said she was "very enthusiastic" about the technique at first.

"We really wanted it to work but at some point we had to face the fact that right now we cannot use it. It's not yet fit for purpose to apply it to real case work and that's why we decided to reject the method in our lab," she said.

She said more basic research was needed about RNA because not all replicates of samples react the same way.

"We don’t know enough about why replicates fail and sometimes RNA can be very stable and sometimes RNA is not stable and we do not see the real trend or a principle in this. As long as this is the case, there's no way to really use it in case work.

"There are so many things we don't know."

Dr Vennemann also doubted the cleanliness of the laboratory in Dallas, Texas where the samples from Lundy's shirt were taken for re-testing last year.

She said it was not necessarily up to the standards of a forensic laboratory.

"If I think about DNA contamination, yes, it is a dirty lab. Maybe a pathologist would say something else. I don't want to say it is a dirty lab in general," she said.

Dr Rodney Miller, a pathologist who ran the lab, earlier told the jury there was "no doubt" there was brain on the shirt.

The trial continues.

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