Mark Lundy proclaims innocence ahead of Court of Appeal hearing

Mark Lundy signs off his letters "Yours in Innocence".
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Mark Lundy signs off his letters "Yours in Innocence".

Convicted double murderer Mark Lundy has spoken out for the first time since his conviction at a retrial for killing his wife and daughter.

From behind bars, Lundy has released a series of letters proclaiming his innocence and likened his case to that of former MP John Banks.

Banks' convictions for filing a false electoral return were overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Mark Lundy, with Amber.
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Mark Lundy, with Amber.

Lundy heads to the Court of Appeal in October, to appeal against his convictions for the August 2000 murders of his wife Christine 38, and daughter Amber, 9.

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Lundy, 58, is serving a 20-year minimum sentence reimposed in 2015 after a retrial in Wellington. His convictions from his first trial in 2002 were turfed out by the Privy Council in 2013.

Mark Lundy, pictured at his 2015 retrial, has twice been convicted of murdering his wife Christine and their 7-year-old ...
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Mark Lundy, pictured at his 2015 retrial, has twice been convicted of murdering his wife Christine and their 7-year-old daughter Amber.

The Crown case against Lundy was dramatically different at the retrial, as set out in the three handwritten letters, crafted in July and August, publicly released by Lundy's backers the Factual Trust. Factual stands for For Amber and Christine, Truth Uncovered About Lundys.

At his 2002 trial in Palmerston North, Lundy was said to have made a mad rush-hour dash from Wellington to Palmerston North, killed his wife and daughter about 7pm on August 29, 2000, cleaned up and returned to Wellington by about 8.30pm. The Crown claimed Lundy had sex with a prostitute later that night in a cynical attempt to create an alibi.

At his retrial, the Crown case was that the murders happened after the encounter with the prostitute.

Mark Lundy during his first trial.
STUFF

Mark Lundy during his first trial.

At both trials, Lundy was linked to the scene by specks of brain tissue found on his polo shirt. 

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At the first trial, the Crown relied on a then new technique called immunohistochemistry from Texan pathologist Dr Rodney Miller, who identified the tissue as human.

At the second trial, the scientific evidence was based on MRNA, where a Dutch lab concluded the specks were human. On both occasions, this, and the presence of Christine and Amber's DNA, sealed Lundy's fate.

The Lundy family house on Karamea Cres, Palmerston North, in August 2000.
DAN PETTERSEN/STUFF

The Lundy family house on Karamea Cres, Palmerston North, in August 2000.

But he cites the case of former high-profile National MP, Act party leader and talkback host John Banks, who was convicted of filing a false electoral return over a tilt at the Auckland mayoralty.

The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction in 2015 when the Crown tried to change important aspects of its case.

"Too bad the decision came out 49 days after my trial finished," Lundy writes.

He says the 2015 retrial jury's guilty verdict against him was wrong "and as a believer of the truth, I will always fight against it. Any innocent man must".

"I am lucky to have wonderful friends and a great legal team helping me with my fight. Fortunately, this appeal has only taken two and a half years to put together.

"The Privy Council appeal took more than a decade. October 17 and 18 will see my latest attempt at obtaining justice."

Mark Lundy stands in the dock in the High Court at Wellington seconds before the jury returned two guilty verdicts.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

Mark Lundy stands in the dock in the High Court at Wellington seconds before the jury returned two guilty verdicts.

After Lundy's initial conviction in 2002, his sentence was increased by the Court of Appeal. Eleven years later his case went to the Privy Council and the law lords quashed his convictions, finding serious faults with the Crown case.

Lundy was bailed to a suppressed location until his 2015 retrial.

THE CHANGING CROWN CASE

One of his letters outlines key differences between the two Crown cases.

"I'm sure that many people noticed there were a number of differences between my two trials.

"What you may not realise is that my legal team and I were given ambiguous discovery, which was rather confusing for a month or so over Christmas.

"Deliberate or not I cannot say. Two weeks before the trial began we manage to coerce some clarification out of the Crown as to what their case actually contained.

"Their actual indictment – charge – wasn't even finalised until the first day of the trial."

Lundy writes that at his first trial a witness, self-described psychic Margaret Dance described seeing Lundy running away from his house, wearing a blonde wig, about 7.15pm.

However, while Dance was on witness lists for the retrial, she was never called.

Lundy says at his first trial there was no mention of unidentified fingerprints involved in the case.

"Trial two was a different story. There were a [set] of fingerprints found in the conservatory, the way in and out of the house, that to this day have not been identified.

"Not only that, but there were shoe prints found in the house that were never matched to any known shoes that accessed the place.

"Considering we had a very proficient house keeper clean the house on Monday August 29, these are very important details, you would think.

"Perhaps that is why these findings of an unknown presence within our house, naturally known to police before trial one, was never disclosed to my legal team at the time."

SCIENTIFIC DOUBTS

One of Lundy's three letters is devoted to the scientific evidence against him. This is expected to form the basis of his case before the Court of Appeal.

He says it falls below the accepted standard of evidence allowed in court and that the methodology for immunohistochemistry (IHC) and MRNA was not reliable enough to secure a convictions.

"They were experiments, invented for my case and never ever used for any other case, anywhere in the world. In the view of many, they are not acceptable for use in court."

He was particularly scathing about Miller, saying other experts from around the world said his method was flawed.

"For trial two the guy was back, with support, but this time IHC was not species specific."

The New Zealand Police, however, are standing by their expert.

Senior Sergeant Nigel Hughes travelled to Miller's Texan lab ProPath in August last year to present him with a district commander's commendation award.

ProPath's website says this is the first time the "prestigious award was bestowed outside of New Zealand".

"Dr Miller's evidence was the vital component in the successful prosecution and conviction of Mark Lundy," Hughes says in a statement on the site.

Miller has been approached for comment.

A member of Factual Trust said the letters were released in accordance with Lundy's wishes. Family members of Lundy and Christine approached on Friday were unaware of their contents.

Christine Lundy's brother Glenn Weggery said he wouldn't read them. 

"I don't think it will have any real effect. It's not like the appeal court judges will be looking at it," he said.

Lundy concludes his letters: "Please remember that there is a very good reason for fighting my conviction.

"I did not and could not commit such a heinous crime. Especially to my beloved Christine and Amber."

 - Stuff

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