Lundy happy to see convictions quashed
JIMMY ELLINGHAM AND MATTHEW APPLEBY
Mark Lundy, the man sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his wife and daughter, is "very happy" that the convictions have been quashed.
Lundy has always maintained his innocence over the deaths of his wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter, Amber in their Palmerston North home in 2000.
The Privy Council delivered its judgement in London last night NZ time, having heard his appeal in June this year.
It said he should remain in custody for the time being, but that a re-trial in New Zealand on the same charges should be arranged as soon as possible.
The decision comes almost 13 years after Lundy was sentenced in 2001. His prison term was initially for 17 years, but was extended to 20 years after he lost an appeal.
The council's judicial committee was unanimous in deciding that Lundy's appeal against his convictions should be allowed and that the convictions should be quashed.
After the hearing, Lundy's defence solicitor, Malcolm Birdling, said Lundy was "very happy" about the decision.
"He’s been waiting a long time now. He’s very glad that this is now going to give us the opportunity to have the evidence tested properly by a jury, something which has never happened before.
"He’s also very thankful for all the assistance of what has been a fantastic team that has been assisting, a group of experts who donated their time generously to assist in a way that allowed us to achieve this result today. He’s just very, very grateful."
The committee said that given the new evidence that it had allowed, Lundy's convictions could not be considered safe.
"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 judicial committee said.
It said having concluded the convictions should be quashed, the committee decided the case should go back to the High Court, saying the divisions between experts in the case were profound and ranged over many areas.
Police said they would consider the detail of the judgment and discuss it with Crown Law and the crown solicitor to decide on their next steps.
"This is likely to include evaluation of what evidence needs to be prepared and the availability of witnesses,'' Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said.
He would not comment further as the matter was still subject to judicial process.
While the judicial council had said there should be a retrial, Birdling said the next step was for the solicitor general to make a decision on whether there should be one.
Lundy's supporting team, called Factual, said in a statement it was thankful the committee had "recognised the severe miscarriage of justice in this wrongful conviction of Mark Lundy''.
Led by expat Kiwi lawyer David Hislop, QC, the appeal was based on doubts about material said to be brain tissue found on Lundy’s shirt that linked him to the crime scene.
Hislop produced expert evidence saying the specks of human tissue were in too poor a condition to be properly analysed.
Prime Minister John Key, asked about the case during an official visit to Bali, Indonesia, said he was "not entirely surprised" by the Privy Council's decision.
He said the decision would now go back to the High Court for a retrial.
Asked if there would be a good case for compensation for Lundy, he said: "I think you'd be jumping to conclusions. The first instance is the retrial and then the outcome of that retrial.
"We'll take it one step at a time."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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