Shock at Lundy appeal to Privy Council

Family and friends of murder victims Christine and Amber Lundy fear they may never be able to put their memories to rest after the man convicted of the killings was granted an appeal by the Privy Council.

News that Mark Lundy, jailed in 2002 for the murder of his wife and daughter in their Palmerston North home two years earlier, would be heard by the London-based court was a ‘‘blow’’, said Christine Lockett a close friend of Mrs Lundy.

Mrs Lockett said she let out a deep sigh upon hearing the news.

‘‘I just thought, ‘Oh no, this is not what anyone wants’.’’

The Privy Council announced yesterday morning its decision to hear Lundy’s case and a three-day hearing will start on June 17.

Mrs Lockett said she and others thought there was ‘‘no way’’ it would be approved when his  application was made public last year.

‘‘We thought that they would throw the case out, that it wouldn’t be accepted whatsoever, so it was a shock to hear they had taken it on board.

‘‘It’s just absolutely devastating and scary to think of it going through the Privy Council system and what the outcome might be.’’

Mrs Lockett said the development meant the spotlight would be back on Lundy.

‘‘It’s just not going to go away now, it’s just going to be really hard to cope with for those who loved Christine and Amber.’’

She had remained in contact with Craig Lundy and his family.

They declined to comment.

‘‘It’s just another blow for them, they have been through so much as a family,’’ Mrs Lockett said.

‘‘It’s just another kick in the teeth.’’

The possibility of his conviction being overturned was ‘‘almost unbearable’’.

‘‘That would be the biggest nightmare for us all, but we’ve got to be realistic about the possibility.’’

She said the memories of Mrs Lundy’s and Amber’s slaying would never be put to rest if Lundy was allowed to walk free.

‘‘Two very precious people were lost and we can never bring them back. It’s hard to think someone may walk free for their murder.’’

Mark Lundy’s London-based lawyer, David Hislop, said he was working pro bono, but it was going to be ‘‘difficult’’ to raise money to bring the expert witnesses to London for the hearing.

The case would focus on the Crown’s forensic evidence, especially the scientific evidence used to identify the matter alleged to be brain tissue found on Lundy’s shirt.

The Crown had ‘‘shopped for an expert’’ to testify about  the findings, he said.

‘‘If the Privy Council come to the view that this is unsatisfactory scientific evidence, there is no doubt that that evidence played a dominant part in the conviction of Mark Lundy.

‘‘If they say it’s flawed or are concerned sufficiently to say, ‘This is unsafe’, then the conviction will go.’’

Also in question was the timing of the deaths, the scientific evidence given on stomach contents, and the time that Mrs Lundy’s   computer was shut down.

Mrs Lundy’s brother, Glenn Weggery, who found the bodies of his sister and niece, had the task of breaking the news of the council’s decision to the rest of the family yesterday morning.

Mr Weggery  would like to travel to London for the hearing, but would have to take out a loan to do it, he said.

A spokesman for the Privy Council said it would be looking at arranging to live-stream the hearing from London on the internet because of the high profile of Lundy’s case.

Long-time Lundy supporter Geoff Levick said the hearing would be another step to Lundy’s eventual freedom. 

‘‘They’ve obviously decided that the points we’ve made [mainly around jurisdiction] are obviously very valid.

‘‘If he goes to the retrial, then I’m confident he will walk free because the evidence against him from the beginning to the end is codswallop. I’ve been studying this case for 10 years.’’

But he saw winning a Privy Council hearing as just the start of another lengthy process for those campaigning to free Lundy.

‘‘It’s an absolutely fascinating case. As an analogy, let’s say you’re on a horse hurdle race and you’ve jumped two hurdles. 

‘‘The first is launching the petition and the second is being invited to make a submission and going to the hearing.

There are a lot more hurdles to jump.’’Mr Weggery expressed his disappointment that the media knew of the news before family but police spokesman Grant Ogilvie said police also found out about the decision through the same channels yesterday morning.

It was ‘‘unfortunate’’, because it did not give them an opportunity to inform those families first, he said.

Police representatives would meet  Crown Law officials to discuss the Privy Council decision within the next few days, he said.

Officer in charge of the Lundy case Detective Inspector Ross Grantham and Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk would not comment.

Manawatu Standard