Lundy's sister constant in supporting him

JIMMY ELLINGHAM AND MATTHEW APPLEBY
Last updated 20:03 08/10/2013
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FAMILY PORTRAIT: Mark Lundy with wife Christine and daughter Amber.

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Mark Lundy's legal team is working to free him from prison to stay with his sister and brother-in-law in Taupo.

In a decision announced in London last night, the Privy Council unanimously decided to allow Lundy's appeal and said he should face re-trial as quickly as possible for the murders of Christine and daughter Amber, 7 in 2000.

Caryl and David Jones have stood by Lundy during his 12 1/2 years in jail and have offered their house as a bail address.

Lundy's lawyers are working on an application.

 

Lundy released a statement to 3News after the decision: "Thirteen years ago I believed in the truth, the police, and the justice system.

"Today I believe in the truth, and I am very happy the Privy Council could see it."

Mr Jones said: "I don't know when the hearing will be. I wish we did."

He and his wife today visited a "pretty happy" and "relaxed" Lundy in Rangipo Prison, where a few tears were shed.

"There's a big weight been taken off his shoulders. He's been quite nervous about the process and I know he's happy."

The Privy Council announced its decision at 9pm yesterday. Lundy's legal team called him before that to break the news.

"They teed up a time and he received a direct call from [lawyer] Malcolm Birdling. It was a private call. He was allowed to be in an isolation room when he took the call and was told. It was embargoed. He could tell family and that was all," Jones said.

"It had to be kept secret because it wasn't allowed to be disclosed until the law lords announced it."

Lundy rang Jones and his wife just after he got the call.

They then settled in to watch the decision online – and there were a few heart flutters as the broadcast missed the live announcement.

But a replay was shown soon after.

"We knew what the decision was, but we still wanted to see it officially. Even though we'd been pre-warned what the decision was, it is not official until such time as the law lords announce it.

"We still watched it with bated breath. We were pretty happy. There were no tears. There were a few tears today with Mark."

The Joneses took Lundy a copy of the Privy Council's 50-page decision to read.

"We won't say we expected it," Jones said of the ruling.

"There was always a chance the decision could have gone the other way but we're really happy now and hopefully people will look at the decision and read it and just look back 12 or 13 years ago and say, OK, something is wrong here. Forget all the emotion and just look at the facts."

Jones acknowledged Lundy had made some bad decisions, saying he's not proud of some of his actions.

Despite that, Jones and Lundy's other small group of dedicated supporters, who organised the Privy Council appeal, hadn't walked away from him.

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"It's always been difficult ... when there's such a small group and the system's against you and there's been lots of delays and all sorts of little hiccups."

They know that it could be some time away.

In the meantime, Lundy's status has changed – being a murder-accused he is now a remand prisoner, so will have to move from Rangipo.

Jones didn't know where Lundy would go or when the transfer would happen.

A Corrections spokeswoman said the department could not discuss the movements of individual prisoners.

 

 

Ministry of Justice spokesman Matt Torbit said Lundy would be entitled to apply for legal aid for a re-trial. The application would be assessed by the Legal Services Agency.

The ministry said $145,207.95 in legal aid had previously been provided for Lundy's defence at his various court appearances.

Jones got about four hours' sleep last night, having made his way through the written Privy Council decision.

 

Nothing in the document was unexpected, although he was surprised at the discovery of Dr Heng Teoh's report which raised doubts about brain tissue evidence that had been crucial in linking Lundy to the murder scene.

It was handed to Lundy's legal team just days before the Privy Council hearing in June.

His trial lawyers had not known of its existence, instead accepting that material found on one of Lundy's shirts contained brain tissue.

Neighbours of the Lundy family’s Palmerston North home had mixed reactions to the prospect of Mark Lundy being re-tried.

Jeremiah Saua, who was seven at the time and in the same class as Amber Lundy, still lives across the street from the house in which she died in 2000.  He said he did not want Mark Lundy to have a chance to come back to Kelvin Grove.

Saua, who lives with his parents in the same house opposite 30 Karamea Cres, said he can't remember Amber, but he remembers the reaction when the killings took place.

"I reckon there will be a lot of anger.

"My parents, they just hope it never happens again. Kids should be able to live their lives."

Earlier Mark Lundy's lawyer, expat New Zealander Malcolm Birdling, said he took on the appeal case after being shown ''some very considerable flaws'' in the evidence presented at his trial.

Birdling said he'd been working on the case since 2010 and must have put in about 1000 hours.

He took it on after meeting with Lundy supporters, including Geoff Levick.

"I realise that [they] had identified some very considerable flaws in the evidence presented at Mr Lundy's trial," Birdling said.

''To boil it down, the reason you become a lawyer is to help people, and here was someone who needed my help."

But family of Lundy's slain wife and daughter are distraught and will struggle to cope with a re-trial, a friend says.

Lundy, 54, is 12 1/2 years into a 20-year minimum jail term for the August 29, 2000, killings, but has always maintained his innocence.

A spokesman for Finlayson's office said the attorney-general would not be commenting on the decision while the case was still before the courts. 

A statement from Lundy's backers on the Factual - For Amber and Christine, Truth Uncovered About Lundys - website thanked the Privy Council law lords for recognising the ''severe miscarriage of justice in this wrongful conviction''.

''Mark Lundy has always maintained his innocence and his love for his wife and daughter who someone has callously taken from him. As the police had initially maintained, Mark is an innocent victim in this horrific crime.''

THE EVIDENCE

At Lundy's trial, the Crown argued Christine and Amber were killed about 7pm. Christine was found lying in her bed, Amber at her parents' bedroom door.

Cellphone records placed Lundy in the Petone area at 5.38pm and 8.28pm, leaving him less than three hours to drive about 150 kilometres to Palmerston North, kill his wife and daughter, stage a burglary, clean up, run to his car and return south.

Texan pathologist Dr Rodney Miller used a technique known as immunohistochemistry, or IHC, to identify the presence of brain and spinal tissue on one of Lundy's shirts, linking him to the scene.

Pathologist Dr James Pang fixed the time of deaths at about 7pm based on Christine and Amber's stomach contents.

But during the Privy Council appeal hearing Hislop cited expert opinion questioning Miller's and Pang's findings.

Hislop also revealed that in the days before the hearing, the Crown gave him a report from Dr Heng Teoh raising concerns about the condition of the human tissue found on Lundy's shirt. This had not been given to Lundy's trial lawyers.

The Crown also said Lundy tampered with his home computer to make it appear to shut down at 10.52pm. Hislop cited experts who said the computer's files might have appeared out of sync because of a virus.

- Fairfax Media

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