Mark Lundy murder retrial: Focus on finances

RETRIAL: Mark Lundy at the High Court in Wellington.
Ross Giblin

RETRIAL: Mark Lundy at the High Court in Wellington.

The Lundys' new life insurance policy was not valid at the time of Christine Lundy's death, the jury in the murder retrial of Mark Lundy has heard.

It earlier heard that the Lundys' life insurance policy increase was initiated by an insurance broker as part of a regular review.

Lundy, 56, is accused of staging a burglary, and launching an attack on his wife Christine, 38, and daughter Amber, 7, with a small axe or tomahawk that has not been found.

First convicted in 2002, he now has a new trial because of a Privy Council ruling, and has pleaded not guilty.

Our reporter Jono Galuszka was at the High Court in Wellington and updated news from the courtroom throughout the day. You can read his updates below.

KEY POINTS:

* Mark and Christine Lundy's life insurance policy increase was initiated by an insurance broker as part of a regular review.

* Mark Lundy told someone he was going to buy land from that he had raised $1 million, and that a vineyard could invest in his vineyard project once he raised $1.4m. He also told a landowner the only issue he had with investors was an oversupply, and delays in buying land were only due to paperwork.

* The man tasked with brokering land deals for Mark Lundy's wine venture was asked by police to record his telephone conversations with Lundy. One of those conversations, recorded on September 22, 2000, was played to the court today. During it, Lundy talked of having a meeting with a potential big investor to buy the needed land.

* If Mark Lundy was unable to pay for the land for his planned wine venture, he would sell his house to pay the penalty interest.

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* Lundy did not tell his accountant Ross Hadwin he had gone unconditional on $1.2 million worth of land for his wine venture. Hadwin also said only about $80,000 worth of shares were sold to the public - well short of the targeted $3.5m.

* The plug was scheduled to be pulled on the wine venture at the end of August 2000 - the month the murders took place, the court heard.

* Mark Lundy told a major supplier for his kitchen sink business that he would use the life insurance payout from his wife's death to pay off large debts.

* Robert McLachlan, who owned the company which supplied sinks to the Lundys, said their business got in trouble because it "overtraded". He agreed when defence lawyer Ross Burns said it was "almost ironic" that being successful would result in the Lundys' running up large debts.

* Mark and Christine Lundy's kitchen sink business was undercapitalised when it started, and almost always owed $100,000 to a major supplier, the court heard.

READ MORE: 
* Lundy murder retrial: Week 1 in review
* Day 5 wrap: Sex life admission
Day 4 wrap: Prostitute - Lundy was nice
Day 3 wrap: Shift in alleged time of killings highlighted
Day 2 wrap: Christine Lundy's brother accused of killings
* Day 1 wrap: Case 'completely different'
Lundy murder retrial - who's who

4.41PM: The Lundys' new life insurance policy was not valid at the time of Christine Lundy's death.

Defence lawyer David Hislop asked Bruce Parsons, who negotiated the couple's policy increase shortly before the murders, if he had received a notification saying the new policy was live. He said he had not.

The policy document the Lundys signed stated the new cover of $500,000 each was not in place until they and Parsons got the notification.

Until that time, the couple were insured for $200,000 each.

Parsons agreed with Hislop that Mark Lundy had never hounded him to chase up the notification prior to Christine Lundy's death.

4.30PM: Mark and Christine Lundy's life insurance policy increase was initiated by an insurance broker as part of a regular review.

Bruce Parsons worked for Tower Insurance in 2000, and had reviewed the Lundy's life insurance policy every three years or so since 1986.

They were due for review in 2000, he said.

Upon discovering the Lundys had got involved in a wine venture, he said he suggested they up their life cover from $200,000 each to $1 million each.

But the couple thought that was too expensive, so they settled on $500,000 each, Parsons said.

4.12PM: A woman said she was shocked to receive an email from Mark Lundy which implied she wanted to invest $1.75 million in his wine venture.

The woman, who has name suppression and lived in England in 2000, knew Lundy's business partner.

The business partner, who also has name suppression, told her about the wine venture.

She received an email from Lundy on August 11, 2000, in which he said he was happy to hear she may invest that much money.

That sum translated to about £526,000 in 2000.

He said she would get 500 cases of wine for free and 2500 cases at cost.

In the email, which was read to the court, Lundy said she could also have a pallet of wine personalised in her own name.

The woman said she was shocked when she got the email.

"I remember turning off the computer and thinking 'I can't even look to respond to that'.

"I didn't know what to say."

She said that if she was going to invest, she would have put in £3000.

4.00PM: Mark Lundy told someone he was going to buy land from that he had raised $1 million, and that a vineyard could invest in his vineyard project once he raised $1.4m.

Douglas Twigg was working to sell Lundy land for the vineyard project, but it stalled when Lundy could not get investors together to pay for the land.

In his statement read to the court, Twigg said Lundy told him he had investors subscribed to pay $1m into the venture.

"He was on top of the world to get his first million," Twigg said.

But Lundy later confessed that he did not manage to get that million dollars together, Twigg said.

The court earlier heard from an accountant that the wine venture only managed to get $80,000 in investment money.

3.27PM: Mark Lundy told a landowner the only issue he had with investors was an oversupply, and delays buying land were only due to paperwork.

Christopher Morrison was going to sell 22 hectares of land to Lundy, which Lundy planned to turn into a vineyard.

The money for the land was to come from investors.

Morrison said the settlement date for the land was consistently delayed, and he decided to call Lundy to "hear the excuses first-hand".

"He said there was no problem, just a documentation issue."

Lundy then said the only big issue was "a surplus of investors, and having to scale the investors back", Morrison said.

3.22PM: Mark Lundy tried to negotiate a property deal where he would not have to pay a deposit for 22 hectares of land, which he planned to turn into a vineyard.

Christopher Morrison owned land through a family trust with his brother, and Lundy wanted to buy the land.

Morrison said the land was for sale for $700,000.

While he wanted a 10 per cent deposit, Lundy wanted to pay no deposit.

Eventually they agreed on a $10,000 deposit, something Morrison said was because Lundy either had no money or did not want to pay any.

3.09PM: The man tasked with brokering land deals for Mark Lundy's wine venture was asked by police to record his telephone conversations with Lundy.

One of those conversations, recorded on September 22, 2000, was played to the court today.

During it, Lundy talked to the man sorting out the land deal, Michael Porter, about how he was having a meeting with a potential big investor to buy the needed land.

The money from the investor was "a done deal", Lundy said.

Lundy also said he felt bad the deal had dragged out so long.

Porter said two blocks of land were on the market, there was a sign up advertising that, and the first person to stump up the money would be given the land.

"I haven't pulled the sign down yet and I'm not pulling it down yet."

2.52PM: If Mark Lundy was unable to pay for the land for his planned wine venture, he would sell his house to pay the penalty interest.

Michael Porter helped broker the deal for Lundy to buy about 44 hectares in Hawke's Bay for the planned venture.

He said it had a settlement date of February 28, 2000, and if Lundy did not settle by then he would be charged 14.5 per cent interest.

But he failed to settle then, and by the end of subsequent months.

Porter said Lundy told him he would sell his house to cover any penalty interest.

However, the owner of one of the plots of land was given another offer, and said Lundy had to cough up the cash.

"I explained to Mark that time had gone on long enough."

A final settlement date of 30 August, 2000 - the day Christine and Amber Lundy were found dead - was set.

Porter said he called Lundy on August 28, telling him the deadline was two days away.

Lundy said he had someone coming with the money and he needed more time.

That person with the money was English, Porter said.

"It was very vague."

Lundy said he would go bankrupt if the deadline was held to, Porter said.

12.52PM: Mark Lundy was investing little of his own money into the wine venture because he had almost nothing to invest, the court has heard.

Defence lawyer Ross Burns asked accountant Ross Hadwin if he knew the Lundy's house was security for various investments, and that it had "no liquidity".

Hadwin: "That is my understanding."

Burns: "Lundy had nothing to put in [to the wine venture]...nothing to lose."

Hadwin said Lundy may have lost his house if the wine venture did not work out, as well as any other assets he owned, depending on what arrangements were in place.

12.44PM: The accountant who dealt with Mark Lundy's wine venture said it appeared to be a good venture.

Ross Hadwin said he thought it was "was feasible, on the basis that, at that time, these types of investments were quite common".

"The previous ventures similar to this, that I had been involved with, had been successful."

12.40PM: Mark Lundy did not tell his accountant he had gone unconditional on $1.2 million worth of land for his wine venture.

The accountant, Ross Hadwin, also said only about $80,000 worth of shares were sold to the public - well short of the targeted $3.5m.

He worked with Lundy to put together a prospectus for the wine venture Lundy and his wife were getting involved with.

The venture involved turning land in Hawke's Bay into a vineyard.

Hadwin said he heard from someone that Lundy had gone unconditional on the land.

This was before all shares in the venture had been sold to the public, as was Lundy's plan.

"I thought it was unwise to enter into an unconditional contract, not knowing if the funds were available."

Share sales were "slow", something which was of concern.

"I would have told him something like 'if this does not improve, then it looks as though the venture [will] fail'."

12.16PM: Shares for the wine venture the Lundys were getting involved with were not selling well, and the plug was scheduled to be pulled on it at the end of August 2000 - the month the murders took place, the court heard.

A statement from a friend of Mark Lundy's, who has name suppression, was read to the court today.

In it, the friend said the wine venture was not doing too well.

Lundy had gone unconditional on land in the Hawke's Bay intended to be used for the venture, but had not sold share parcels quick enough to cover it.

That mean Lundy was paying penalty interest, which grew to $90,000.

The friend said that, in August 2000, total costs for the business hit $190,000.

He told Lundy they should pull the plug on the project if they could not raise enough funds by the end of August.

Lundy would have been personally liable for the costs if the venture was kiboshed, the friend said.

However, it was believed the penalty interest would not apply as the land had not been sold, the friend said.

On the day the bodies were discovered, the friend met Lundy at the police station.

Lundy was in shock at the time, he said.

"I would describe him as dead from the neck up."

11.25AM: Christine Lundy once said the wine venture she and her husband were getting into was reliant on a woman investing.

Dianne McLachlan, who ran a sink supply business with her husband Robert, said the Lundys attended a conference in Hamilton soon before the murders.

During it, Christine Lundy told her the winery venture was lagging due to a woman deciding if she was going to invest.

Christine Lundy said she did not think the woman would invest, McLachlan said.

11.07AM: The day before Christine Lundy died, she paid $10,000 to a company she and Mark Lundy owed money to.

Defence lawyer Ross Burns read an email Christine Lundy sent on August 29, 2000 to the business which supplied kitchen sinks to her and Mark Lundy's business.

In it, she said she would be forwarding $10,319 that day.

Robert McLachlan, who owned the company which supplied the sinks, said the Lundys' business got in trouble because it "overtraded".

He agreed when Burns said it was "almost ironic" that being successful would result in the Lundys' running up large debts.

10.58AM: Mark Lundy told a major supplier for his kitchen sink business that he would use the life insurance payout from his wife's death to pay off large debts.

McLachlan said he spoke to him about the large debt owed to him in January 2001 - less than half a year after Christine and Amber Lundy were found dead.

McLachlan said Lundy told him he would use the life insurance payout to pay off the debt, which had always hovered around $100,000.

When that did not eventuate, Lundy talked about using his home as leverage for a bank loan.

But that did not happen, and the Lundy's business was soon placed into receivership and liquidation owing McLachlan's business $160,000, McLachlan said.

10.43AM: Mark Lundy was going to use money he would earn from his vineyard venture to pay off the debts his kitchen sink supply business had racked up.

McLachlan said Lundy told him he would get $80,000 a year from the vineyard.

"That money was going to be used to get the debt to [my business] under control," McLachlan said.

However, he had doubts over the venture.

He said he understood it would be a fully-functioning vineyard from the start, but was then told by Lundy it was "a bare piece of land".

"Without knowing anything about it, but being in business, I knew a development like that would be incredibly expensive."

10.28AM: Mark and Christine Lundy's kitchen sink business was undercapitalised when it started, and almost always owed $100,000 to a major supplier, the court has heard.

McLachlan ran a business which imported kitchen sinks and taps into New Zealand from the Netherlands and Taiwan.

The Lundys were distributors for him, he said.

He said all other distributors would pay him by the end of each month, but the Lundys' company had a different arrangement "partially because I was a little bit soft".

"I always knew [their company] was undercapitalised when they took responsibility for distribution of our products."

The debt the Lundys' company owed McLachlan's was always about $100,000 - sometimes more, sometime less - he said.

At one point, he froze their outstanding debt and got them to pay it off at $3000 a month so they could continue to purchase new product.

 - Stuff

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