Lundy DNA evidence 'not reliable', court hears

Last updated 22:56 17/06/2013
Mark Lundy
Fairfax NZ
CONVICTED: Mark Lundy.
Mark Lundy family portrait
FAMILY PORTRAIT: Mark Lundy was convicted in 2002 of murdering his wife, Christine, and seven-year-old daughter Amber.

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Convicted murderer Mark Lundy should not have been found guilty of killing his wife and daughter on the basis of DNA evidence, according to an expert consulted during the murder investigation – material not presented to Lundy’s defence team at his 2002 trial.

That opinion was revealed by Lundy’s lawyer David Hislop, QC, as he opened his appeal to the Privy Council in London last night.

Lundy is serving a 20-year minimum jail sentence for the murders of his wife Christine and daughter Amber, 7, on August 29, 2000, in the family's Palmerston North home.

Originally sentenced to 17 years jail, the Court of Appeal upped the punishment after both Lundy and the Crown appealed the initial outcome of Lundy's 2002 jury trial.

But Lundy maintains his innocence and a group of supporters has organised his Privy Council bid, at which Lundy will not appear.

Hislop said notes from the officer in charge of the murder investigation, Detective Inspector Ross Grantham, show he contacted neuropathologist, Dr Heng Teoh, in January 2001.

These were not given to Lundy’s defence team at his murder trial and were a ‘‘new revelation’’, Hislop said.

Grantham showed Teoh a slide with two specks of what was thought to be Christine Lundy’s DNA, taken from her husband’s polo shirt.

The slide was made 58 days after the murder.

‘‘[Dr Teoh] would only commit to saying these cells were tissue cells,’’ Hislop said.

Teoh also said he thought that Lundy should not be convicted on the basis of what was shown to him.
It was not unnatural to expect to find a wife’s detail on her husband’s clothing, given they lived together.

At Lundy’s trial Texan pathologist Dr Rodney Miller gave evidence that the specks were brain matter and the Crown said the tissue was splattered on the shirt ‘‘wet’’, linking Lundy to the murder scene.

‘‘His expertise is unknown to do with brain tissue. All he opines is this is what brain tissue looks like,’’ Hislop said of Miller.

Hislop said the Crown undertook ‘‘expert shopping’’ to find someone to fit its case.

Doubts about the brain tissue and the technique used to identify it, evidence over the time of deaths, evidence that Lundy tampered with his home computer to make it appear it shut down later, and problems with the trial judge’s direction to the jury were the central issues of the appeal, Hislop said.

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At the trial in Palmerston North, the Crown argued that the time of deaths was about 7pm, according to scientific evidence about the stomach contents of Christine and Amber Lundy.

Cell phone records placed Lundy in Petone, about 150km away, at 5.30pm and 8.28pm, leaving a three hour window for him to make the drive, park some 500m away, kill his family, clean up, and return south.

There he later hired a prostitute.

Christine was in bed early on the night in question, the Crown said, because Lundy had promised her he would return from his business trip to make love.

Deputy solicitor-general Cameron Mander and Annabel Markham are representing the Crown in London.

The Privy Council appeal is expected to last three days, with a reserved judgment likely.

Since 1897, 12 cases from New Zealand have been granted approval to be heard by the Privy Council, which was replaced by the Supreme Court in 2004.

Those charged before this can still apply to take their case to London, if other New Zealand avenues run out, but Lundy’s convictions could be the last to be heard by the law lords.

Before last night, the last New Zealand case to go to the Privy Council was David Bain’s in 2007. His convictions for murdering his family at their Dunedin home in 1994 were quashed and a new trial was ordered, at which Bain was acquitted in 2009.

Before that, in 2005, Bruce Howse appealed his convictions for murdering his step-daughters in Masterton in 2001. His appeal was dismissed and he continues to serve a 25-year minimum jail sentence.

Four of the 12 appeals heard have been accepted to various ends, seven have been dismissed and one withdrawn.

- Fairfax Media

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