Two years into a jail sentence for killing his wife and daughter, Mark Lundy is still protesting his innocence. Part of the Crown case hinged on him making a suicidally fast trip home from Petone to commit the murders – yet, say supporters, how was it possible for him, if no one can replicate it? And that’s just one of their unanswered questions about the case.
“Gidday, how are ya? Keeping out of mischief?” Dave Jones answers the phone in his Taihape home and natters away for the next few minutes. Then he hands over to wife Caryl, who talks just as animatedly to the caller. As you would, too, if it was your brother ringing up for a chat on a quiet Saturday afternoon.
In this case, though, the brother on the line is Mark Lundy, and he’s calling from prison. Two years into a 20-year sentence, he has to make the most of each 15-minute call he’s allowed. Dave and Caryl have even got themselves an 0800 number to make it less hassle for him to call.
Convicted two years ago of brutally murdering his wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter Amber in their Palmerston North home, Lundy has never ceased to protest his innocence. And Caryl and Dave have no doubt about it, either. Ask Caryl if she believes that her brother didn’t do it and without a flicker of hesitation or ambivalence she replies: “Oh I know he didn’t. He couldn’t. No. There’s no way. I’ve never even heard him argue with Christine. He couldn’t even tell Amber off for being naughty, let alone do that sort of heinous thing.”
Who would indeed hack a mother and child to death with a hatchet, splattering blood and brains around the room? Not Lundy, most people thought. In the immediate wake of the killings, he seemed like a genuinely grief-stricken family man – and he had an apparently clear alibi. His arrest six months after the murders turned public opinion against him, however, and as the Crown case unfolded at his trial, revealing among other things his use of prostitutes, the grief in hindsight began to look more and more insincere.
The turning point, what more than anything else put Lundy behind bars, was a pathologist’s testimony that the fabric of one of his shirts contained the DNA of his wife’s brain tissue.
Writer Peter Hawes sat through the seven-week trial, and at that point, he says, “You could feel it in court. Everybody, from there on in – suddenly you were looking at a murderer. It was a very strange moment. You just knew you were sitting next to a murderer – an axe murderer.”
Two years on, however, many people remain unconvinced. The Joneses are by no means the only ones who feel that an innocent man has been jailed. And although you couldn’t exactly say that a “free Lundy” campaign has gained the momentum of, say, the campaigns on behalf of Peter Ellis and David Bain, the website of a group called FACTUAL (For Amber and Christine – Truth Uncovered About Lundys) is attracting lots of hits. “We simply want to find the truth about what happened that night,” says FACTUAL. “We consider that there are too many inconsistencies and unexplored areas in the evidence that convicted Mark.”
Topping the list of shonky evidence, as sceptics see it, is the return trip that Lundy is supposed to have made between Wellington, where he had spent the day on business, and home on the night of the murders. Even those who think him guilty tend to boggle at the logistics of what can only have been – if it happened – one of the most audacious not to say maniacal open-road drives in this country’s history.
According to the Crown, in two hours and 51 minutes, Lundy drove 150km from Petone to Palmerston North through rush-hour traffic, parked 500m from his house, hurried there, butchered his wife in her bed, cut down their child in the bedroom doorway, cleaned up, reset the computer, disposed of the murder weapon, ran back to the car in female disguise and drove the 150km back to Petone without attracting attention from a single speed camera, traffic cop or fellow driver – even though he would have had to hit speeds of at least 160kph to do it.
No one who has tried to replicate the road trip – and many, including the police, have had a go – has come anywhere near doing it in the same time. The man who has taken the most trouble over it, private investigator Paul Bass, made the northbound trip three times by different routes at exactly the same time of day and year as Lundy allegedly did (see map) and couldn’t do it in less than an hour and 56 minutes – which would have left Lundy a physically impossible 55 minutes to commit the murders and get back to Petone.
Bass had backed himself to match Lundy, too.
“Before I did this,” he says, “I thought I would be able to do it. When I was given this task, I thought, right – no sweat. I’ve been in the police force, I’ve driven very, very fast over long periods of time, and I thought, yeah, I should be able to do that. I couldn’t.”
Anyone who regularly drives between Wellington and Palmerston North will tell you that it can be done a great deal faster than an hour and 50 minutes. Without even breaking the law, you can do it comfortably in an hour and a half. But not at rush-hour, when streams of cars clog the highway both ways as far north as Levin. Not on a weeknight between 5.38 (a cellphone call puts Lundy in Petone at this point) and 7.15pm (the latest time the murders could have been committed, according to analysis of the victims’ stomach contents).
“I just don’t know how he was able to make the trip as alleged, without people being on their cellphones pushing *555,” says Bass. “Because you would have to be driving like an absolute lunatic. And you are going to bring an awful lot of attention to yourself. If your focus is to go and do something discreetly and give yourself an alibi, it doesn’t make sense that you would then draw attention to yourself.”
Nor have answers ever been satisfact orily provided to these questions:
# Why was Christine, a well-known night-owl, in bed at 7.00pm, when she and Amber always watched Shortland Street?
# If all the lights in the house were off next morning, when the bodies were found, and the murders took place no later than 7.15pm, how to explain the testimony of passers-by and neighbours who saw lights off (9.45pm) and then on (11.00pm)?
# Who shut down Christine’s computer at 10.52pm, or programmed it to do so? (echoes of the Bain murders here)
# Was the man a witness saw running away from the scene wearing a woman’s wig really Lundy, when an orthotic device he wore in his shoe made it hard for him to run?
# And, above all, if Lundy so cunningly plotted the whole ghastly business, why would he leave an incriminating shirt in his car?
The shirt, yes. Without that, says Lundy’s lawyer Steve Winter, “probably the Crown case would have crumbled. I wasn’t on the jury, so I don’t know what it was they put weight on, but that was pretty powerful forensic evidence, it has to be acknowledged.
“Without the shirt, you say, he might have got off. Without the shirt, I’m not sure he would have been charged.”
On the morning after the murders, Lundy drove home from Wellington. Police stopped him before he could turn into his street, told him his wife and daughter had been killed and took him to the police station, where they confiscated not only his car but also his glasses, watch and wedding ring. Four days later they searched the car, which was full of junk and had patently not been cleaned for a while, and examined clothes found in a bag in the boot. Not a trace of blood connected with the crime was found anywhere in the car – not on the driver’s seat, the steering wheel, the door handles – but tiny, almost invisible smears or particles of blood were eventually detected on a blue polo shirt taken from the bag.
At the trial, an ESR scientist said that the DNA in a blood smear on the shirt was 450 billion times more likely to be that of Christine Lundy than that of another unrelated female; and that “small red particles” were 19 million times more likely to be Amber’s than any unrelated female’s. Those findings alone, however, would not have convicted Lundy, as the blood might have landed there earlier – from a cut or scratch, say. What did for him was the testimony that microscopic tissue fragments in the left sleeve could only have come – or at least were 450 billion times more likely to have come – from Christine’s brain or spinal cord.
This was established by a method called immuno-staining. It is not widely used in forensic analysis (ESR does not do it), and the officer in charge of the Lundy case, Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham – who declined to be interviewed – had to search the world for a lab to do it at all. All those he contacted apparently told him that a definitive result from such a tiny sample was highly unlikely. Finally, Grantham tried a Dallas company called ProPath, and it was ProPath’s director of immunohistochemistry, Rodney Miller, who made the crucial call: testifying at the trial, Miller was adamant that the particles were brain or spinal cord tissue.
It was the first time the immuno-staining method had ever been used on fabric.
Well, not quite the first. A week before Grantham showed up at ProPath with the shirt, Miller did a little experiment. “I was rinsing off a fresh chicken to be used for dinner,” he wrote later, “and noticed spinal cord tissue protruding from the severed neck of the chicken.” Smearing some of this tissue on an old shirt, he was able to confirm its origin by immuno-staining. “Little did the chicken know,” he added, “that she would be contributing greatly to putting a guilty man behind bars.”
They certainly do things differently in Texas (Lundy, as Miller also noted, would have been executed there). But whatever you think of the method, Miller’s finding swung the trial. In the jury’s eyes, says Hawes, Lundy’s genial image melted away. “Suddenly he grew fangs and horns,” says Hawes, “and you just knew, knew, knew; and I could feel that everybody else in that room felt the same.”
How to combat such damning evidence? All the defence could do was suggest that the tissue got into the fabric, either accidentally or deliberately, while the shirt was in police hands. Explains Steve Winter, who was one of the defence counsel at the trial: “We had to put to police witnesses every alternative, in order to do our job properly. I think everybody would like to think that it couldn’t happen, but could you rule it out? Well, the jury found in this case they could.”
The Crown line was that Lundy wore overalls or a tracksuit to do the killings, but that the blood and tissue somehow sprayed inside them, or he smeared the shirt with the overalls while taking them off. If he was the murderer, though, that still doesn’t explain one thing.
As Dave Jones says, “If you’ve got rid of everything else, why would you keep the shirt you were wearing? If you’ve got blood and gore all over you, and you’ve gone somewhere and inside this bloody short timeframe you’ve been able to clean yourself up so they haven’t found anything under your fingernails, in your hair, in your glasses, your watch, your rings, the zipper of your trousers – whatever, you’ve got rid of everything – if you’ve been so careful, why would you be dumb enough to keep the shirt? You’d dump the whole bloody lot, wouldn’t you?”
Despite evidence of Lundy’s serious debt problems, no credible motive has ever been established for the crime. Nor has anything ever emerged to suggest that this man, described by his sister as “a bit of a blowhard” at worst, was capable of such a savage act. He was a heavy drinker, but had no record of any kind of violence. Says Caryl: “I don’t think he had a bad bone in his body. Has a bad bone in his body.”
The puzzling questions remain, and may yet be answered. The FACTUAL group, for instance, though not yet ready to go public with its findings, claims to have discredited “just about everything the police said”.
“Obviously it’s a lot harder to discredit the so-called brain tissue,” says a spokesman, “or, if it is brain tissue, how it got there. Everything else just falls apart, everything else is just a theory – no doubt about it.”
When all’s said and done, however, it’s hard to get away from the likelihood that Lundy did do the murders. After all, if he didn’t, who did? Rumours still abound, of course – of the neighbour who mysteriously vanished, of a P-crazed intruder, etc. And the idea of murder by a total stranger is not so far-fetched: Val Burr lived near the Lundys for many years, and once worked with Christine. Horrifyingly, a year after the Lundy murders, Burr’s daughter Tanya was randomly murdered in a Rotorua home invasion. “The same thing,” she says now, “could just as easily have happened in the case of Christine and Amber.”
Hawes has no doubt that Lundy did it, and is equally convinced that Lundy has dissociated himself from the act. “He’s totally convinced that he didn’t do it – because it’s gone. He took his wife’s face off; he’s taken his own bit of brain out that remembers this.”
From Kaitoke prison near Wanganui, where he has been working in the laundry and studying for a degree in applied science, Lundy wrote a letter earlier this year, saying that one day the world will know the truth of what really happened on that August night. And it may have been he who sent the card attached to a bunch of artificial flowers propped up against Christine and Amber’s mutual grave. It says: “Remember. Mark.”
The Murders of
Christine and Amber Lundy
Was it really Mark?
A summary of the case
Early on the morning on August 30th 2000, Christine Lundy and her daughter, Amber, were found brutally murdered in their home at 30 Karamea Crescent, Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Following their investigation, the NZ Police arrested Mark Edward Lundy (husband and father to the victims) and charged him with the murders. He was prosecuted and found guilty.
An appeal was unsuccessful and Mark is now serving a life sentence with a non-parole period of 20 years. Mark continues to maintain his innocence and realises that, unless the truth is established, he will serve his full term of 25 years.
As he will never admit guilt, Mark is denied eligibility for parole.
The Crown alleged Mark drove at high speed from Petone, 150 km away, manipulated the computer clock to appear as though it had been shut down at a later time, murdered his wife and daughter, then drove back to his motel at high speed. Many doubt that Mark is capable of such brutal acts, and feel the verdict is unsafe.
The murder weapon, bloodstained clothes, and the stolen jewellery box have never been found. There is no explanation for where the offender cleaned up after leaving a blood-spattered scene. No trace of blood was found on Mark, his car, glasses, or jewellery.
There is no evidence that the high speed drive took place. A Police reconstruction took longer and used 40 litres more petrol, and this reconstruction did the North bound leg late at night, not in the rush hour as they had alleged Mark had done.
There is no evidence that the computer clock had been manipulated. This was simply suggested by the prosecution as an explanation for why the alleged time of death did not concur with the computer shutdown time. In addition only one of the two computers was cloned and examined. The laptop that Christine was to use to prepare her brother's tax return, the Police have advised, was never cloned or examined by the Police or e-crime laboratory. This laptop was released to the family to use, and important evidence may have been lost as a result.
The motive alleged was that Mark was in serious financial trouble, and murdered his wife for the insurance money.
In actual fact,
When the company Marchris Enterprises was wound up, there was sufficient money to pay all creditors, with some debtors uncollected.
The Salu Vino project had investor's money secured in a trust account without any deductions.
The land he was trying to purchase for the vineyard project fell through without him being committed for the $2,000,000 purchase at Maraekakaho in Hawkes Bay.
The insurance policy increase was not at Mark's request, and nor was he the person that instigated any claim on the policy.
Impassive Lundy jailed for life
By Paula Oliver - NZherald.co.uk
Thursday March 21, 2002
Mark Lundy blinked rapidly, his mouth open, as a jury last night pronounced him guilty of murdering his wife and seven-year-old daughter.
Members of his family gasped and held hands in the High Court in Palmerston North as the verdict was read to a hushed courtroom. One swore.
Lundy was given the mandatory life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years by Justice Anthony Ellis, but the Crown has said it may seek to keep him in prison longer.
Lundy was then led away, silent and impassive.
A few minutes later, as passers-by and cars stopped to find out the verdict, he was taken from the back of the court in a prison van to Manawatu Prison at Linton.
The jury of six men and six women took just 6 1/2 hours to find Lundy guilty while a crowd of more than 60 people kept a vigil at the court.
The bodies of Amber Grace Lundy and Christine Marie Lundy were found on August 30, 2000, in a bedroom of their Karamea Cres home in suburban Kelvin Grove by Mrs Lundy's brother, Glenn Weggery.
After the verdict, Lundy's sister Caryl Jones, who has not missed a session of the court throughout the hearing, their ageing father, Bill, and two rows of in-laws, cousins and close friends who have supported the accused throughout, were ushered quickly to a private room.
Police shook hands and congratulated one another in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.
Outside, inquiry head Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham was applauded by members of the public. Surrounded by reporters, Mr Grantham said: "I'm just happy now it's over, and that the families and the police can move on with our lives."
Defence lawyers left quickly without comment. Upset members of the Lundy family fled the court without speaking.
Justice Ellis thanked the jury for what he described as an extremely difficult and upsetting task. "The community is in your debt."
He excused jury members from further service for 10 years.
From the outset the jury was confronted with the brutal reality of Christine and Amber Lundy's deaths as they were handed post-mortem photographs. At one point during the trial, proceedings were delayed when a juror found evidence too gruelling.
Lundy was arrested in February last year, six months after the killings, when police confirmed that Christine Lundy's brain tissue was on one of his shirts.
In a trial that lasted nearly seven weeks and heard 160 witnesses, the Crown alleged that Lundy sped from Petone to Palmerston North as part of an elaborate plan to commit the murders, and then fled the scene wearing a woman's blonde wig.
He bludgeoned his wife and daughter repeatedly with a tomahawk or small axe, then tried to make the house look as if it had been burgled.
He then sped back to Petone and ordered a prostitute as an alibi.
To do the trip from Palmerston North to Petone in 75 minutes would have required speeds of up to 150km/h.
Lundy told police that during his drive north the day after the slayings he travelled at up to 160km/h.
The Crown and defence lawyer Mike Behrens, QC, debated how tissue from Christine Lundy's brain got on to a polo shirt belonging to Lundy.
The Crown regarded the shirt as crucial evidence of his guilt, while the defence tried to prove the shirt could have been contaminated with the tissue while in police keeping.
The discovery of the bloodied, bludgeoned bodies of Amber and Christine Lundy shocked Palmerston North and the nation.
The mother and daughter were farewelled at a packed funeral on September 7, 2000, at St Peter's Anglican Church.
Lundy wept openly and had to be physically supported by two people after the ceremony.
Earlier yesterday, Justice Ellis took only 38 minutes to sum up the trial before sending out the jury at 1.53pm.
He said the trial was one in which the collective commonsense of jurors had to be brought to bear.
Grouping the wealth of expert and technical evidence in the case - forensics, pathology, telecommunications, automotive and driving - Justice Ellis said the jury was faced with some conflict and contradiction between them.
"But this is a trial by jury, not a trial by experts," he said.
The presence of brain tissue from Christine Lundy on Lundy's polo shirt was accepted by both sides, the judge said. What was at issue was how it got there.
Justice Ellis said allegations of lies had been made by both sides.
The Crown said Lundy was not telling the truth about August 29.
The defence suggested police, and inquiry leader Ross Grantham in particular, planted the brain tissue evidence.
Jurors must not consider possible lies in isolation and simply short-cut around them, the judge said. The possibilities had to be considered along with the other associated evidence.
Justice Ellis said the jury was being asked to decide on a case of circumstantial evidence which the Crown said came together to prove guilt, and which the defence said was flawed and fell far short of the required standard for conviction.
If the jury found the DNA material on Lundy's shirt got there during or very soon after Christine and Amber's murders, "it is a very powerful piece of evidence for the prosecution. But if you are in doubt, the prosecution case is severely weakened."
Matters of lights at the house and the computer clock needed careful consideration, the judge said.
"For prosecution to succeed, a 7pm time of death is essential. If you have a reasonable doubt about this, it is fatal to the prosecution case."
In his final submissions yesterday, Mr Behrens told the jury that the police thought from the beginning Lundy was guilty.
He made no apology for asking Mr Grantham if he deliberately contaminated the evidence against Lundy.
The defence did not question the fact that it was from Mrs Lundy, but said it could have got there accidentally or deliberately.
Mr Behrens said the trial was not about how brain tissue got on a shirt, but about whether Lundy murdered his wife.
For Lundy to drive from Petone to Palmerston North on the night of the deaths, he would have needed to travel at an average speed of 150km/h, Mr Behrens said.
Cellphone records put him in Petone at 5.30pm and 8.30pm on August 29.
Mr Behrens described evidence from a witness about a fat, running figure in the Kelvin Grove area as "unreliable", coming from a witness whose memory was shown to improve with time and with the help of media pictures.
He warned the jury against prejudice, which "is like an infection - sometimes you don't know you have it".
Mark Lundy guilty of killing wife and daughter
March 21, 2002
The jury delivered the verdict after deliberating for about seven hours.
The case began seven weeks ago in the High Court in Palmerston North.
The case centered around Lundy's movements on the night of the murders and a shirt of his which had been found with brain tissue from Christine Lundy on it.
Lundy wore his guilt Crown says
March 20, 2002
Jurors in the Mark Lundy murder trial were told Lundy's polo shirt, smeared with his wife's brain tissue, was the silent witness to the killing.
In his closing address in the High Court at Palmerston North, prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said the polo shirt, found in the the back of Lundy's car, was central to the case.
There was only one explanation for the brain tissue and blood on the shirt and that was that the wearer killed Christine and Amber Lundy.
"Any way you look at it, this shirt speaks volumes about the killing. It is the silent witness to the killing."
Mr Vanderkolk strongly criticised the defence for suggesting police had contaminated the evidence.
"The defence would have you believe that Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham had already made up his mind by 8.30pm [on the day the bodies were discovered], that Mark Edward Lundy, a man he had never met, was the killer ... Or that he would be, once Detective Sergeant Grantham had embarked on a plan to frame the accused, to concoct and effect a most corrupt plan of the most rotten kind that very night."
Mr Vanderkolk said it was a "baseless and wicked" proposition, founded on desperation rather than any certainty.
He told jurors they could be sure the investigation was conducted according to the high standards expected of police in this country.
To identify the killer, he said, the police had to use all their resources, all their guile, and trickery and deceit if necessary. "It was just sheer hard work."
The Crown did not have to prove a motive for the killings, he said, so the only question was whether Lundy killed his wife and daughter, not how he could do such a thing.
The reason for such a killing was only known in the mind of the killer, Mr Vanderkolk said. "Only he knows why he is doing this ghastly act."
The case against Lundy was not about the morality of using a prostitute, but he had been with a prostitute the night his wife and daughter were killed.
"How, might you think, could the accused go back to the same motel with that awful enduring memory, guilt about his absence from the home and indulge in a sexual liaison ... some six weeks or so after the deaths?"
Lundy questioned about phone calls, movements
By Paula Oliver - NZherald.co.uk
Monday March 18, 2002
Double murder accused Mark Lundy left his motel earlier than usual the morning after his wife and daughter were killed, but he could not account for what he did in the hour after leaving, a court heard this morning.
Lundy, who spent more than two hours under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk, said he had checked out of his motel at about 8am on August 30, 2000.
He is accused of murdering his 38-year-old wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter Amber with a tomahawk-like weapon on August 29, 2000.
Phone records show that Lundy made a call from his cellphone at 8.56am on the morning of August 30, 2000.
Mr Vanderkolk asked Lundy what he did between leaving the motel and making that call.
Lundy said he had eaten his breakfast and got some batteries for his razor. But after doing that, "I'm not sure", Lundy said. "Maybe I did read my book during that time."
He later visited customers of his kitchen business.
Earlier in the trial Lundy's motelier told the court that Lundy did not normally leave the motel until 9am when he was there on business. He usually stayed around to chat before leaving.
Lundy was also quizzed about how long he sat in his car reading a book at the Petone foreshore the night of the murders. Lundy said he was not sure how long it was.
Mr Vanderkolk asked him why he had told police in an interview that he had been there for an hour.
"I have no idea," Lundy said.
The court also heard that Lundy made up an explanation for his whereabouts the night of the murders because he did not want to tell people that he had been with a prostitute.
Questioned by Mr Vanderkolk, Lundy said he had told someone that he saw a man smoking a cigarette at the motel when he moved his car late that night. Asked why he had said that, Lundy said: "She had asked about an alibi, and I wanted to reassure her." He had told the same story to other people as well, he said.
"Why all this talk about alibis, Mr Lundy?," Mr Vanderkolk asked.
"People kept asking," Lundy replied.
Questioning also centred on Lundy's call to a business associate at 8.30pm the night of the killings. Lundy made the call in response to a message left on his cellphone about 15 minutes earlier.
Asked why he didn't answer the phone when it rang, Lundy said he had been in the toilet in his motel. He had heard it ring, and indicate that a message had been left. He said it took him 15 minutes to respond to the message because he may have picked up his book again for a few minutes before he remembered hearing the phone ring.
Lundy was also quizzed about a phone call he received while driving back to Palmerston North the day after the murders. He said he was driving back at high speed because a friend had called to tell him there was police tape around his home.
While driving, a business associate phoned him. The man gave evidence earlier in the trial that Lundy told him "his day had turned to hell". He said Lundy also said something had happened to his wife and child.
Asked by Mr Vanderkolk how he could have known that, Lundy said he had never said it.
"No. I said something had happened at my house," Lundy told the court.
Lundy also disputed evidence given by witnesses who were customers of his business.
Evidence given relating to the timing of his visits to them on the morning after the killings was wrong, he said.
One had told the court he arrived at 9.40am. Lundy said he was there at 9am.
He also disputed evidence given by his brother Craig Lundy, and by friend and business associate Glen McLachlan, that he usually called Amber at about 8pm to say goodnight when he was away on business.
The defence's second witness took the stand shortly before the lunch-time adjournment.
Paul Bass, a private investigator, told the court of his three attempts to drive between Petone and Palmerston North at high speed.
Lundy takes the stand and denies killing wife and daughter
By Paula Oliver - NZherald.co.uk
Thursday March 14, 2002
Double murder accused Mark Lundy this morning took the witness stand in his own defence, saying he "definitely did not" kill his wife and daughter.
Lundy, wearing a mustard shirt and red tie, is the first witness to be called by the defence.
Two more, a pathologist and a private investigator, will also be called.
Lundy is accused of killing his 38-year-old wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter Amber with a tomahawk-like weapon on August 29, 2000.
At times emotional and animated during his evidence, Lundy told the jury that he had not left Wellington the night of the murders.
He had read a book in his car at the Petone foreshore, and later again in his motel room.
He told defence counsel Steve Winter that on the day of the killings he had visited several customers in Wellington before finishing work at around 4.30pm. Lundy then brought a meal and some rum and went back to his Petone motel.
At about 5.30pm his daughter rang his cellphone to check if she could have takeaways for dinner, and Lundy then spoke to his wife. They discussed how the business had been going that day.
Lundy said he then drove about 500m to the foreshore to get fresh air.
The next time his cellphone was used was at 8.30pm, when he retrieved a message from a business associate. Asked why he had not answered the incoming call when it rang, Lundy said he had been in the toilet in his motel room.
He called the associate back from his motel room, Lundy said.
Later that night he phoned a nearby escort agency on the "spur of the moment".
Asked how he felt about the action now, Lundy said: "It makes me sick. Because it's...I'm not proud of it at all. It was stupid."
Lundy said his wife would not have been happy if she had found out, but he did not think it would end their relationship.
He described his sexual relationship with his wife as "relaxed".
After the birth of Amber, the couple had found it difficult to conceive another child.
They decided not to try IVF treatment because they did not "believe in interfering with the body that much".
Lundy became emotional when he said the decision to not have another child was difficult. He described Amber as full of life and active, and said he missed her very much.
He then told the court of the early morning she was born.
"When the surgeon said it was a girl, I went you beauty!", Lundy said, thrusting his arm up in the witness box.
After they had decided not to have another child, Lundy said sex was not an issue in their marriage. That did not bother him.
Asked to describe his relationship with Christine in August 2000, Lundy said it was very good. Speculation that it was on the verge of separation was "absolute rubbish".
He said they rarely had arguments, and Christine always won when they did.
Neither were having an affair, he said.
Lundy will continue giving evidence this afternoon.
Lundy given debt ultimatum day before killings, says Crown
By Paula Oliver - NZherald.co.uk
Wednesday February 13, 2002
Double murder accused Mark Lundy was told he had two days to come up with the money to buy a patch of land the day before the Crown says his wife and daughter were killed, a court heard this morning.
Lundy said he was financially exposed and could be bankrupt if the deal did not work.
Lundy is accused of killing his 38-year-old wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter Amber on August 29, 2000.
The High Court in Palmerston North this morning heard from witness Michael Porter, the man who acted on behalf of a vendor who was to sell land to Lundy.
Earlier in the week the court heard Lundy had planned to purchase land in Hawkes Bay to develop it into a vineyard. He planned to seek investment from the public.
Mr Porter told the court that the land Lundy wanted was in a highly sought after area called "the triangle" - an area known for river gravels that produce good vines.
Lundy decided he wanted three particular parcels of land.
There were two vendors, and one wanted $700,000 for his land, plus GST.
Lundy was "very confident" he had the funds, Mr Porter said.
It was agreed that a deposit of $10,000 would be made, and the deal would become unconditional when that was paid.
The rest of the money would need to be paid six months later on February 28, 2000.
There was a penalty clause for delay in payment, but Lundy mentioned equity on his house and said it was not an issue.
Mr Porter told the court that there was a delay in the payment of the deposit. Lundy also asked for an extension on the settlement date.
"It became the end of April, end of June, July, until we got to August," Mr Porter said.
The vendor instructed Mr Porter to tell Lundy that the deal was off at the end of August if he had not come up with the investment necessary to pay.
Lundy was not angry, but upset, Mr Porter said.
Mr Porter told the court he rang Lundy on August 28, 2000. He told Lundy he had two days left or the deal would fall through. He said Lundy "was worried".
"There was a feeling that it had come to an end. I felt that he had run out of puff trying to make it work," Mr Porter said.
Earlier in the day the court heard from a business associate and friend of Lundy who was granted permanent name suppression.
Under cross-examination from defence counsel Mike Behrens the man told the court that police had offered him a deal to give him immunity from prosecution if he told them what he knew about the murders.
The police believed he was involved, he told the court.
The witness said Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham had visited his home with another detective and accused him of lying.
Detective Sergeant Grantham told him that he didn't think the witness had committed the murders, but that he believed someone had been into the scene after the killings to clean it up and switch off the computer.
The witness said he told police he did not want a deal because he was not involved.
The witness, who had a 27-minute conversation with Lundy on the night the Crown alleges the murders took place, said the talk was not a scheme to cover up the murders.
Lundy trial starts today
Tuesday February 05, 2002
Nearly 160 witnesses will be called by the prosecution when Palmerston North businessman Mark Edward Lundy goes on trial today for the murder of his wife and daughter.
The Crown case is expected to take 4 1/2 weeks to present and the defence another two or three weeks.
Lundy's wife, Christine, aged 38, and daughter, Amber, 7, were slain at their Palmerston North home on August 29, 2000. Their bodies were discovered the next day.
Lundy was arrested on February 23 last year, and has been in custody since then.
The High Court trial will be before Justice Anthony Ellis.
Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham said the investigation was the biggest homicide case Palmerston North police had worked on.
Sixty-six potential jurors will line up for selection at the trial in which the Crown will call witnesses from as far away as America. They will include a pathologist specialising in tissue analysis.
Massey social psychology lecturer Dr Keith Tuffin said interest in such cases was a dilemma of the human condition.
"We're horrified by such horrendous crimes but just as equally we want to know the intimate details."
Ben Vanderkolk will represent the Crown and Mike Behrens, QC, will head the defence team.
Lundy: I had a $2.5m problem
By Alison Horwood - NZherald.co.nz
Thursday July 19, 2001
Double murder accused Mark Edward Lundy told police he increased the life insurance policy on his wife of 18 years, Christine Lundy, before she was killed.
The Palmerston North businessman also told police he had "cashflow problems" with a business venture totalling more than $2.5 million.
A statement given to police by Lundy within days of the murders was read to the Palmerston North District Court at a depositions hearing to determine whether he will stand trial on charges of murdering Christine, aged 38, and their only child, Amber, 7, in their Palmerston North home on August 29 last year.
In the statement, Lundy, 42, said that two months before the murders an insurance representative advised him to increase the cover on his and Christine's lives to $1 million each.
But because of his health problems - blood pressure, border-line diabetes and cholesterol - they increased each policy from $205,000 to $500,000 cover.
Already presented to the court as an exhibit is a letter from Tower Health relating to a claim on a life policy.
Other details from the statement included the Lundys' "cashflow problems."
One company, kitchen-fitting business Marchris, was successful and grossed $600,000 in sales, Lundy claimed. But a business set up in 1999, Winegrowers Ltd, which related to Hawkes Bay vineyard Salu Vino, was not so successful.
Lundy told police that costs of $2 million in land and $500,000 in vines were meant to be offset by share offers, but he did not know how many had sold. Payments were two months in arrears and incurring penalties.
Lundy said he was "hopeless with money" and "Christine did all that."
He also said in his statement that he and Christine enjoyed a happy marriage, and "even grossed nieces and nephews out with public displays of affection."
On the day of the murders, he and Christine went to Lighting Direct to look at a lightshade. "I kissed Christine goodbye and left her to pay ... and drove out of Palmerston North."
Lundy made business calls around Lower Hutt, before Amber rang him about 5.30 pm to ask if she could have takeaways for dinner. Lundy talked to Christine. "That was the last time I spoke to her," he said.
Lundy said he booked into the Foreshore Motor Inn in Petone about 5 pm, bought a 1125ml bottle of rum, Diet Coke and some food.
The Crown says Christine and Amber died about 7.15 pm of severe head injuries inflicted with a tomahawk-like weapon.
Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk has told the court that after the killings, Lundy staged a break-in at the house, ran to his car dressed in a wig, and drove to Petone so cellphone calls would show he was in the Wellington area.
But Lundy told police that he spent the night in motel room 10, drinking and watching television.
At 11.30 pm he ordered an escort from the Quarry Inn massage parlour.
She arrived about 11.45 pm and he paid $140 for a massage and sex.
"I have ordered escorts in the past, but not regularly," he said in the statement.
He and Christine did not have an active sex life.
About 9.15 am the next day, Lundy rang home. A friend answered and said Christine was "tied up" or "couldn't come to the phone."
Detective Sergeant Stephen Kelly, officer in charge of suspects, said that two days after the murders he dropped Lundy at his father's house.
Lundy was visibly upset, and walked away from the police car with his head down and shoulders hunched. But as soon as he thought he was out of sight, "there was a complete change in his posture."
"Mr Lundy put his head up, his shoulders back - it was instantaneous. It was an incident that sat in my mind, that made me comment to the person beside me," Detective Sergeant Kelly told the court.
Killer escaped in blond wig: Crown
By Alison Horwood - NZherald.co.nz
Tuesday July 17, 2001
Prosecutors say Mark Lundy killed his wife and 7-year-old daughter with a tomahawk, then put on a long blond curly wig and left the house disguised as a female jogger.
After the murders of Christine Lundy, aged 38, and the girl, Amber, Lundy tried to make it appear that someone had broken into their Palmerston North home, according to depositions to the Palmerston North District Court yesterday.
About the time of the deaths, a resident near the Lundy home on Karamea Cres saw what she believed was a large woman jogging.
"But on closer look she realises it is a large man in tracksuit pants and a tracksuit top running," Crown Solicitor Ben Vanderkolk told the court. "She then saw what appeared to be a blond curly wig hanging over his eyes, if not slipping down over his face."
The person was wearing dress shoes and was heading towards a dark blue car.
The Crown says Lundy drove his dark blue Ford Fairmont to a Petone motel and that night arranged a one-hour "meeting" in his room.
A document relating to the nearby Quarry Inn massage parlour has been presented as an exhibit.
The evidence was presented on the opening day of a hearing to determine whether Lundy, a former kitchen sink salesman, will go to trial for the murders of his wife and only child on August 29 last year.
Many of the exhibits relate to the Lundys' business dealings and personal affairs, including upgrades on life insurance, applications for a $1 million policy on the lives of Mr and Mrs Lundy, and a claim with Tower Health.
Mr Vanderkolk told the court that on the night of their deaths, Mrs Lundy and Amber bought $18.60 worth of food from McDonald's about 5.45 pm. They died between 7.10 and 7.15 pm.
Mrs Lundy was killed as she lay naked on her back on the couple's bed. Palmerston North Hospital pathologist Dr James Shing Hung Pang told the court she had been struck at least nine or 10 times in the head with a tomahawk, mostly on the forehead and face. One wound was 8cm deep.
She suffered bruising, incisions and fractures to her forearms and hands as she tried to defend herself.
"An early and realistic conclusion reached was that Amber Lundy had entered her mother's bedroom, saw what was happening to her mother, turned to leave the bedroom and, as a witness to her mother's murder, was caught and killed by the attacker," said Mr Vanderkolk.
Amber was face-down in the doorway in her nightie.
She had at least seven wounds said to be caused by the same weapon.
Mrs Lundy's brother, James Glenn Weggery, found the bodies about 9 the following morning.
He said he found Amber with her feet in the master bedroom and body in the hallway.
"I could see blood on the head and on the wall."
He told the court that after phoning 111 he found his sister with "her head split open."
Later that morning, when police and ambulance staff, a friend of Mrs Lundy and Mr Weggery were still at the house, the phone rang and it was Lundy.
"A police officer told Mark that we were busy and they would call him back later," said Mr Weggery.
Mr Vanderkolk said police later found a broken latch on a conservatory window frame at the back of the house, consistent with the window's having been wrenched open.
"This could only have occurred after the murders because the blood smear was the blood of Christine Lundy and the smear pattern appeared to have been applied with a gloved hand."
Lundy told police he last saw his wife and daughter alive on the morning of August 29, when he left for Wellington on business.
He checked into his regular motel in Petone about 5 pm, bought some food and talked to Mrs Lundy and Amber on the phone about 5.30 pm.
Lundy told police that between then and a call at 8.30 pm, he watched television and spent some time in his car reading on the Petone foreshore.
Several details relating to his dark blue Ford Fairmont and its contents have been suppressed.
After the murders, Lundy told police of a missing jewellery box, which has never been found.
Without prompting, he noticed that the broken latch on the window had been replaced, Mr Vanderkolk told the court.
Lundy also told police a computer expert should be able to testify that a computer inside the house was turned off at 10.51 pm, when he could account for his time in Petone.
"To that extent, he has a sound alibi if the killings occurred after 10.51 pm," said Mr Vanderkolk.
"But it is alleged they did not."
The murder weapon has not been found, but Mr Vanderkolk said it left orange and blue paint in the hair of both bodies which was similar to the paint marking the tools Lundy kept in his garage.
Lundy on death charges
By Alison Horwood - NZherald.co.nz
Saturday February 24, 2001
Palmerston North man Mark Lundy has been charged with the murder of his wife, Christine, and their 7-year-old daughter Amber.
The badly mutilated bodies of Mrs Lundy, aged 38, and Amber were found in the family home by a relative on the morning of August 30 last year.
They had severe head and facial injuries and the police believe they were murdered with a weapon similar to a tomahawk.
Lundy, a salesman, appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday on two counts of murder.
He was transported to and from the court in a police van and following his brief appearance was remanded in custody for a week. He did not make a plea.
At a press conference later, police appealed for sightings of Lundy's car driving between Wellington and Palmerston North on the night of the murders.
Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham, heading Operation Winter, said yesterday he believed Christine and Amber Lundy died in their Palmerston North house about 7 pm on August 29.
He said police wanted the public to come forward with sightings of Lundy's blue Falcon car, registration XD4476 between 5 pm on August 29 and 8 am on August 30.
A court representative said Lundy's demeanour in the dock was subdued.
At the victims' funeral almost six months ago he wore dark glasses, was physically supported by friends and was visibly and audibly upset.
Detective Sergeant Grantham said Lundy was arrested about 1 pm. He had been asked to be at the police station about 9 am for a further interview and while he was there a search warrant was executed on the flat he had been sharing with a friend since the murders. An item was seized from the house.
Police are still searching for the murder weapon, clothing worn at the time of the killings and a jewellery box Lundy said was missing from the family home.
Operation Winter's second-in-command, Detective Sergeant Mark Painter, told the Herald last week that 90 per cent of forensic evidence had been analysed but police were awaiting further results, expected within 10 days.
Lundy has told police he was in Wellington on the night of the murders and in an interview with the Herald last week, he said he dismissed rumours about his involvement as speculation and hearsay.
He coped by keeping away from the murder scene at Karamea Cres, not reading the papers and with the support of his counsellors, friends and family.
River search in Lundy double murder
By Alison Horwood - NZherald.co.nz
Wednesday September 20, 2000
A police dive team will continue to search the Manawatu River today for items in connection with the Lundy double murders.
The bodies of Christine Lundy, aged 38, and her only child, Amber, aged 7, were found in their Palmerston North home three weeks ago.
Detective Sergeant Mark Painter will not specify what the divers are looking for but it appears to be the axe-like murder weapon missing since the killings on August 29.
Police say Mrs Lundy and her daughter suffered severe head injuries in the attack. They describe the weapon as heavy, with a blade on at least one side and possibly a long handle.
Grid searches of the river began on Monday after police received new information. The section searched yesterday is near the Opiki Bridge, about 15km from Palmerston North and on the short-cut route to Wellington.
Detective Sergeant Painter said the dive conditions were challenging because of the swift current and high silt levels. Nothing of interest had been found by nightfall and searching was to continue most of the week.
The police are appealing to the public to help them identify people and vehicles seen near the Lundy home in Kelvin Grove about the time of the killings.
Sightings include an old yellow car, possibly a Vauxhall, in the area about 7.15 pm on Tuesday, August 29, and a brownish Mitsubishi L200 ute seen at 3.50 the next morning.
Late last week, police returned the house to Mark Lundy following a blessing by local kaumatua. Detective Sergeant Painter said Mr Lundy, aged 43, had indicated that nothing appeared to be missing, leading police to believe robbery was not a motive.
Detective Sergeant Painter also says there is no evidence the attacker knew Mr Lundy was out of town on business or had stalked the pair.
The night of the murders, Mr Lundy, a national sales distributor, was in Wellington on business. Vehicles belonging to the Lundys have been returned after forensic tests.