This is The Evidence Locker.
Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.
Warning: this episode deals – in part – with the death of a child. Listener discretion is advised.
It was a cool Wednesday morning in the peaceful New Zealand city of Palmerston North in August 2000. Around 9am Glen Weggery arrived at his sister, Christine’s house where she lived with her husband Mark Lundy and their daughter Amber. Glen was a self-employed truck driver and Christine always helped out with the business side of things.
Two days before, on the Monday, Glen left his chequebook with Christine so she could do his tax return, which was due at the end of the month. Glenn dropped by the following morning, but Christine wasn’t done yet and told him to come back on the Wednesday.
Glen regularly visited the Lundy home, but nothing could prepare him for what awaited him on that Wednesday morning of the 30th of August 2000. When he arrived, no one answered the door. He waited a while and knocked on the door, this time louder, more urgent. There was still no answer. This was very unusual. Christine was always home at that time. Glen felt uneasy, something wasn’t right… So, he forced his way into his sister’s home.
As he walked into the house, he called out to Christine and Amber. He was making his way through the living room and froze when he saw his seven-year-old niece. She was lying on the floor in the doorway of the master bedroom – covered with blood. Her blood-soaked hair covered her face and her head was in an unusual position. Glen immediately knew from the horrific scene that Amber was no longer alive.
He called for help straight away. As he waited for emergency services to arrive he cautiously made his way to the master bedroom. His worst fear was realised when he found his 38-year-old sister’s body on the bed. She was naked, lying face-up, drenched with blood.
What happened to this mother and daughter in the late-August night at number 30 Karamea Crescent in the quiet neighbourhood in Palmerston North?
In August 2000, 43-year old Mark Lundy and his wife, Christine had been married for 18 years. They met at scouts when they were younger. Christine was still involved in scouts, helping out with their daughter, Amber’s Girl Guides group.
The family lived in the provincial city of Palmerston North, which, in 2000 had just shy of 80 000 residents. This city is in New Zealand’s lower North Island, set in the scenic Manawatu region. Palmerston North is a friendly city, known affectionately as Palmy by the locals. It’s a safe and wholesome place to live and it’s considered to be a great city for raising kids as there are many good schools around.
After Mark and Christine had Amber, they struggled to fall pregnant again. They opted not to try IVF treatment and resigned themselves to the fact that they would only have one child. Christine was a devoted mother who was very involved in Amber’s life. Amber loved to dance, was bubbly and had many friends. She was known as a strong-willed child – perhaps even a little spoilt – but teachers agreed that it was a pleasure to have her in their class. Mother and daughter would walk home from school, always chatting about what happened in their respective days.
Mark Lundy started out as a builder in the 1980’s. But later on, Mark and Christine began their own business, selling kitchen sinks and benchtops from their online catalogue. It was the type of business they could run from home, so it was nice for Christine to be able to spend time with Amber.
Christine looked after the accounts and administration side of things, while Mark was effectively the travelling salesman. He always had samples in his car and travelled to clients all over the North Island to maintain relationships and hopefully make more sales. He routinely travelled to Wellington every second week and always stayed at the same motel in Petone.
Mark was a heavy drinker who liked to boast about himself. This didn’t always make him very popular in social circles. But Christine put up with his drinking and his manner and in later years their relationship was more of a partnership than a romantic one.
In 1999 Mark bought two plots of land next to each other, in Hawke’s Bay. He had always dreamed of owning his own vineyard – and this was his chance. But the dream had a two Million Dollar price tag. It was perhaps a bit out of his reach, but he was optimistic that he would be able to get the money together for the purchase.
On Tuesday morning, August 29th, the day before Christine and Amber’s murders, Mark accompanied Christine to a lighting shop near their home in Palmerston North to look a lightshade. After they had chosen one, Mark kissed Christine goodbye as she went to pay and he carried on to work. It was around 9:15 in the morning when Mark left for Wellington in his dark blue Ford Fairmont.
After meeting with clients in Wellington all day, Mark bought himself a bottle of rum, a diet coke and some food. At 5pm he checked in to his usual motel in Petone, the Foreshore Motor Inn.
Shortly after 5:30, Christine and Amber called Mark and told him that Amber’s Pippins (or Girl Guides) meeting was cancelled for the afternoon. Amber spoke to her dad and asked him if she could have McDonald’s for dinner. After Mark gave the green light to buy take-aways, Amber passed the phone to her mom. Mark filled Christine in about his meetings that day and the pair talked about odds and ends regarding their kitchen sink business.
The call ended at 5:43 and a receipt shows that mother and daughter purchased their take-away dinner at 5:45 at the McDonalds in Rangitikei Street, approximately 10 minutes’ drive from their home.
Little did they know, that this would be their last meal.
Christine and Amber settled down, in front of the TV and tucked in to their chicken burger, fish burger, nuggets, chips and apple pies. Christine poured each of them a glass of Pepsi Max.
At 6:56 the phone rang. It was a woman from the Manawatu Wine Club, who called to ask if Mark would be able to help with a wine tasting that week. Christine said that Mark wasn’t home and would be back in town the following day. The woman said that the call only lasted about 17 seconds and that Christine was unusually short with her in their brief conversation.
Back in Petone, Mark Lundy returned a missed call from a business partner regarding his Hawke’s Bay winemaking venture around 8:30pm, after missing the initial call 15 minutes earlier. His business partner had called to warn him that an angry creditor was demanding immediate payment. Lundy was upset and disappointed. According to the partner:
"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."
About three hours later, Mark Lundy called the Quarry Inn Massage Parlour and ordered a prostitute from his motel room. A girl who called herself Belinda arrived at 11:45pm. She had sex with Lundy and then gave him a massage. At 23 minutes to one, Belinda took her $140 and left Lundy’s motel room.
At 7am, Lundy went to the motel manager and asked for batteries for his electric shaver. He checked out earlier than he had done on previous occasions. He would usually hang around for a chat until 9am, but on this particular morning he checked out at 8am.
Cell phone records show that Lundy made several phone calls to his home that morning, leaving messages for Christine. Eventually someone answered, but it wasn’t his wife. A friend of Christine’s picked up the phone and told him they were a bit busy, but that she would ask Christine to call him back.
Back in Palmerston North, shortly after Christine’s brother had discovered the gruesome murder scene, Christine’s friend, Karen Keagan arrived to meet Christine for a walk, something they did three times a week. She waited with Glen for emergency services to arrive.
When Mark Lundy called his home, Karen was in the Lundy kitchen, being interviewed by a police constable. The constable instructed her what to say – and she told Mark that his wife would call him back. This was between 9:30 and 10am.
Just before mid-day, Mark Lundy called a friend and said that he could not reach Christine and he asked if he could go to his home and check on her. Minutes later his friend called back, telling him there was trouble at his house. Police had cordoned off the property – and the street. There was also a report on a local radio station about “a suspicious murder”.
Mark Lundy was in Johnsonville at the time, just north of Wellington. On hearing the news about police at his home in Palmerston North, he immediately got into his car and sped home. On the way he took a call from a client who recalled Lundy being emotional. According to the client, Lundy said that something had happened to his wife and child and that he was heading home.
1 hour, 23 minutes later, at 1:15pm, Mark Lundy arrived home in Palmerston North. He was stopped by police about a block away from his house. They had questions for him. He was asked about his whereabouts the night before. They also searched him and his car to see if there was anything that would tie him, as the closest relative, to this horrific crime.
Lundy was dumbfounded, paralysed with shock and struck down by grief when he heard about the murders. His reaction was so severe that his friends were concerned that he was not going to be able to deal with the situation.
Later that afternoon, Amber’s little 7-year-old body was removed from the home, but Christine’s body stayed overnight as forensic technicians worked around the clock to gather as much evidence as possible. When she was removed the next day, they took her body through the bedroom window, so as to preserve any evidence in the rest of the house.
In the conservatory at the back of the house, it was evident that one of the windows had been pried open. The window frame had Christine’s blood on it, which meant that it was broken after the murders had been committed. The blood was from a print, made by someone wearing gloves. It was clear that the intruder tried to stage a robbery, also taking Christine’s jewellery box with them. But that was the only missing item. In the house were computers and other valuables and Christine’s car was untouched.
Christine’s computer in the study was shut down for the last time at 10:52pm. However, that didn’t mean Christine was the last person to use it. Police also believed someone could have reset the clock on her computer after the murders.
In the master bedroom, there was blood splatter all over the walls and floor. Pathologist, Dr James Pang concluded that the murder weapon must have been a tomahawk-like blade or an axe. But despite extensive searches of the area, neither the stolen jewellery box, not the murder weapon was ever found.
Christine and Amber Lundy’s the funeral was held on September 7th 2000 at St Peter’s Anglican church. It was televised nationally and scenes of Mark Lundy almost collapsing with grief gripped the nation’s attention. He needed people by his side to prop him up in order to make it through the proceedings.
The autopsy results found that 7-year-old Amber had been struck seven times. One blow for every year of her life. Both victims had multiple injuries to their faces and heads, but the attack on Christine Lundy had been far more severe. She was struck 18 times in the head and face with a tomahawk. One wound was 3 inches or 8 centimetres deep. Her assailant dealt so many vicious blows that the headboard behind her was also damaged. Christine also had bruising, incisions and fractures on her arms and hands, signs that she desperately tried to defend herself against her assailant.
By analysing the victims’ stomach contents, Dr Pang was able to conclude Christine and Amber’s time of death. Their stomachs were still full, with no obvious signs of digestion, and no obvious smell of gastric juices. Making the time of the murder around one hour after ingestion. This means – if they ate soon after arriving home at 6pm – the time of death would have been around 7pm.
Police were suspicious of Mark Lundy from the start of the investigation. Lundy’s friend who informed him about the unfolding drama at his home on the morning of the 30th of August mentioned to him that he had heard a news report about “A suspicious murder”. He did not say murders. Yet, when Lundy spoke with a client minutes later, he said that he was heading home as something had happened to his wife AND his daughter.
During the autopsy, blue and orange flakes of paint were found on Christine’s skull that matched paint Mark Lundy had used to tag his tools with. The paint fragments were found to be the exact same colour and it had the same chemical composition. When Lundy was a builder he used blue and orange paint to mark his tools, so he could identify them when working on site.
Though that didn’t prove that Mark Lundy was the one who killed his wife and daughter. The tools were stored in a locked garage at the Lundy home. The garage was found to be locked on the morning of the 30th of August when Christine and Amber’s bodies were found.
Police focussed their attention on the seemingly grieving husband.
A week after the murders, Margaret Dance, a 60-year-old neighbour who lived 500 metres from the Lundy family home came forward said that she saw a man running near her house at 7:15pm. She was driving to her choir practice. The man had a blonde curly wig that was slipping down over his forehead. The disguise was supposed to make him look like a woman. When she saw Mark Lundy on TV, she recognised him as the runner, based on the shape of his face and his upper body.
But on the night of his family’s murder, Mark Lundy was 93 miles (that’s 150 kilometres) away. Was it possible that he could have driven back to Palmerston North, murdered his wife and daughter at 7pm, then sped back to Petone where he returned his business partner’s phone call at 8:29pm?
According to police, Mark Lundy’s motive for killing his wife Christine was for the life insurance money. And because Amber witnessed what he had done, he had to kill her too.
Police looked into Lundy’s vineyard deal. He had promised a deposit of $10,000, after which he could not pull out of the deal anymore. Money for one of the pockets of land was due at the end of February of 2000. But August rolled around and yet no final payment had been made. The vendor gave Lundy an ultimatum: he had until the end of August to pay or the deal would be off.
Lundy admitted in a statement that two months before the murders he was advised by an insurance representative to increase cover on his and Christine’s lives to $1 Million each. But because of health issues (like blood pressure and cholesterol) they only increased each policy from $200,000 to $500,000
The whole theory of Lundy’s guilt had many problems. Firstly, it normally takes just shy of two hours to drive from Petone to Palmerston North. Lundy checked in to the motel at 5:30, then finished the phone call to his wife and daughter fifteen minutes later. This means he would have been stuck in rush hour traffic for most of the way, had he left straight away. There is no way he could have made it back in time to make the phone call to his business partner at 8:29.
There was also the fuel issue. When Lundy arrived home from Wellington on the day that Christine and Amber’s bodies were found, police examined his car. The Ford’s 68-litre tank was not big enough to make two round trips between Palmerston North and Petone in Wellington. There was no evidence that Lundy had stopped for fuel. He was pedantic about keeping fuel receipts, seeing as he could claim it as a business expense.
Theories emerged that Lundy filled a jerry can prior to the night of the murders and filled up the car without leaving any trace.
Changing the clock of the family computer would require someone who is confident with computers. To refuel his car with a jerry-can without being seen and running 500 metres through his own neighbourhood wearing a wig would be pushing it for a man of Mark Lundy’s build. He also wore an orthotic aid in his shoe, which made it difficult for him to run.
The theory was perhaps possible – at a stretch. But it all seemed very sophisticated for someone who seemed like just a simple family man. Yes, maybe overweight, yes, he may have overplayed his grief at his wife and daughter’s funeral and yes, he did cheat on his wife with a prostitute. This all makes him a very unlikeable man, but does it make him a murderer?
Police felt that it did. In February 2001, six months after the brutal attack,
Mark Edward Lundy was arrested and charged with Christine’s and Amber’s murders.
The trial began one year later at Palmerston North High Court. Lundy pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Crown (or prosecution) stated their case: Lundy had rushed home after speaking to his wife and daughter, murdered them at 7pm and returned to Wellington before 8:30pm where cell phone pings confirmed he made the call to his business partner. It was a circumstantial case and not a very good one at that.
Experts tried to replicate the drive, but nobody was able to do it in the timeframe alleged by The Crown. Private Investigator, Paul Bass said:
“I just don’t know how he was able to make the trip as alleged, without people being on their cell phones pushing *555… 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.”
*555 that Bass mentioned, referred to is the number for Roadwatch. It’s the number you dial in New Zealand to report a road incident or an unsafe driver.
To explain why Christine was found in the nude, Prosecution argued that Lundy had told her he was coming home for sex. She sent Amber to bed much earlier than usual and waited for her husband to arrive. When he did, he killed her.
The case against Mark Lundy needed concrete evidence. This came from the shirt Lundy was wearing on the night his family was murdered. A small speck of human tissue was found on the front pocket of his polo shirt. The DNA matched Christine’s.
Investigators looked worldwide to find anyone who would be willing to test such a small sample. When Rodney Miller, director of immunohistochemistry at a company called ProPath in Dallas, Texas, heard from lead investigation Ross Grantham, he agreed to test the sample. What he found, shocked everyone in court:
The tissue from Mark Lundy’s shirt came from Christine’s brain. Rodney Miller flew over to New Zealand and testified that he was 100% sure that the sample was from either brain tissue of spinal cord fluid. He confirmed that one could not get that type of sample from a superficial cut.
It was the first time a process called immune-staining had ever been used on fabric.
Queen’s Counsel, Philip Morgan’s statement summed up the evidence:
“No man should have his wife's brain on his shirt.”
At that moment, the atmosphere in court changed. Everybody present felt that despite many questions, Mark Lundy had to be the axe murderer who killed his wife and young daughter.
Police believed that Lundy wore coveralls during the attack – coveralls that were never found. The brain matter could have smudged onto the left chest pocket from his hand or glove when he removed the coverall.
Miller’s tests have been criticised and called ‘experimental’. The preservation of the tissue sample was brought into question. The lack of necessary controls was also alarming. Also: why was there brain or spinal cord tissue on the shirt, but no blood. It was a vicious and bloody attack. There is no way that a minute, but pure spec of brain tissue would make its way onto the perpetrator’s shirt and yet not one drop of blood could be detected.
There was no blood on Lundy’s clothes, glasses or in his car.
Lundy’s shirt also showed no signs of sweat – surely after wielding an axe for more than 20 blows and running away, wearing a wig, a person would at least sweat a little bit?
Lundy’s defence argued that the sample was contaminated by forensic examiners. They also accused lead investigator Grantham of tampering with evidence, saying he did so to frame Lundy for the murders. But the jury didn’t buy it. The phrase was too powerful:
“No man should have his wife's brain on his shirt.”
Lundy’s defence attorney never apologised for his accusation against lead investigator Grantham
When Lundy took the stand, he did more damage to his own case: he contradicted previous statements and even disputed evidence given by his own brother. A friend also stated that Lundy usually called home when he was travelling to say goodnight to Amber – around 8pm. Lundy definitively denied that this was something he usually did.
A large part of Lundy’s questioning focussed on the call Lundy missed at 8:15pm on the night of the murders. Why did it take him 15 minutes to return the call? Lundy said he was on the toilet when he heard his phone ring. When he was done, he got stuck into his book before he remembered there was a missed call.
The defence made the point that Lundy did not know that he would receive a phone call at from his business associate that night. If he had killed Christine and Amber around 7pm, he had all night to make his way back to Petone. Why chase back if he could simply have driven at a normal pace? There is no way he could have known his partner would call at 8:15pm. It was not an alibi that he had set-up.
A crowd of more than 60 of Christine’s and Amber’s friends and family kept a vigil at the court, praying for justice.
The jury did not find Lundy believable. They took less than seven hours to return a guilty verdict. Mark Lundy was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
A couple of months after Lundy’s sentencing, a man who worked at the Petone Working Men’s Club came forward and said that he had seen Mark Lundy sitting on the foreshore, reading a book after dusk on the night of August 29th 2000. It’s only after he saw Lundy’s trial on TV that he realised his information could have been relevant.
That same year, Lundy appealed his conviction, but his appeal was rejected and the court increased his non-parole period to 20 years.
Lundy served 11 years in prison, before taking his next legal step. In New Zealand, since 2004, the last resort for appeals is currently the Supreme Court. But because the crime and sentencing occurred before then, he could still appeal to the Privy Council in Britain. This is the highest court of appeal in certain British territories, as New Zealand used to be prior to 2004.
It paid off. In October 2013 the Privy Council quashed Lundy’s convictions and ordered a re-trial.
The retrial was held at the High Court in Wellington. The Crown (or prosecution) came prepared. They argued that the initial timeline of the night of Christine’s and Amber’s murders was wrong in the initial case. The new theory was that Lundy left Petone after midnight.
With this new theory, many of the holes in the previous theory were closed up, and it seemed more plausible that Lundy – after his interlude with the prostitute – drove home, killed his family and drove back. He had time between the hours of 1am and 7am to make the highly discussed trip from Petone to Palmerston North and back – this was possible.
The Crown also argued that the initial time of death was incorrect.
Digestion is not a very reliable source for determining a time of death. In his original statement, Dr Pang said that there was no gastric smell present, concluding that digestion had not started.
Professor Derrick Pounder, head of the Centre for Forensic and Legal Medicine at Dundee University in Scotland, a recognised international expert in this field stated:
“There is to my knowledge no scientific literature with respect to stomach contents’ smell and time of death, and the comment on this matter is incomprehensible to me.”
Experts consulted in this case agree that most people’s stomach contents empty within 2-10 hours. But there are many factors to consider when looking at digestion. For instance, if the victims were in distress or if they had consumed liquids with their meal, digestion would take longer. Digestion would only start once 80% of the liquid had emptied out of the stomach.
At the Lundy home was an empty 1 litre bottle of Pepsi Max – and two empty glasses with Christine and Amber’s DNA on them. It is fair to assume they had Pepsi with their take-aways.
If digestion took, let’s say, eight hours to start, that would shift the time of death to 2am. There is also the possibility that Christine had a bite before she went to bed – it is not conclusive exactly when all the food was eaten.
Mystery still surrounded the fact that Christine usually went to bed at 11pm. So, why then, would she have been in naked bed, at 7pm? The idea that Lundy had called and said he was on his way to have sex did not make sense. It had been established that the couple didn’t have much of a romantic life, such a request would be completely out of the ordinary.
Christine liked to read Mills & Boons novels before she went to sleep. She used reading glasses and would put them in their case before she went to sleep. When she was found, the glasses were in the case and the bedside lamp was off. The assumption being that she was asleep before she was attacked. And with her normal bedtime being closer to 11pm, the theory that she was killed at 7pm would be implausible.
Also: Christine and Amber habitually watched a local Channel 2 soap opera, called Shortland Street which started at 7pm and finished at 7:30pm. Amber loved the show too, and would usually get her way. If Christine had said they weren’t watching Shortland Street, Amber would have kicked up a fight. Family and friends gave evidence and stated that they felt Amber would not have been in full pyjamas, in bed and miss her TV show at 7pm. Her usual bedtime was 8pm.
At the crime scene the TV was on standby, switched off with a remote control. The channel was set on Channel 4, not Channel 2. The last TV show Christine watched was not Shortland Street, but something on Prime.
In the kitchen were signs that Christine baked at some point during the night. On the bench was a banana peel and, in the sink, some baking tins.
The computer at the Lundy home was shut down at 10:52pm. Christine was known to do the accounts for their business at night after Amber had gone to sleep. Remember, at the first trial they argued that Mark had reset the time on the computer. Although it’s possible, it doesn’t seem plausible for a guy like Mark who wasn’t very much of a tech-person to change the time. Christine was by far the more computer-literate of the couple and the one who mostly worked on that computer for their business.
Mark and Christine also owned a laptop, that Mark occasionally took with him on business trips. On the night of her death, Christine was doing her brother, Glen Weggery’s taxes. Only the laptop, not the PC, had the necessary accounting software on that she used.
On the morning of Wednesday August 30th, the laptop was found in the study in its case, resting on a chair, next to an open space on the desk, a space where it appears that the laptop had been before it was packed away into its case. Christine had also finished her brother’s tax return as promised – it was ready and waiting on the kitchen bench.
She must have done the return sometime between Tuesday morning and going to bed on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, the laptop was never properly searched – in fact there seems to be some ambiguity as to who searched the computer and if it was ever clocked as evidence. Sometime after the crime, Lundy updated software on the laptop which caused it to crash. That means that evidence from August 29th was lost forever and police were unable to retrieve any further evidence.
With the latest medical evidence now pointing towards a later time of, it was now plausible that Mark Lundy could have driven home in the dead of night. There would have been few witnesses and of course, hardly any traffic.
The Crown painted a picture of a desperate, greedy man who killed his wife for life insurance money, so he could realise his dream of owning his very own vineyard. The only flaw in the plan was the witness: his own daughter.
Mark Lundy did what he had to do – and killed his 7-year-old daughter too.
He then staged a burglary, disposed of the murder weapon and the coveralls he was wearing, and drove back to Petone.
If he left Petone at 1am, that would give him six hours to drive the return trip, commit the murders and be back at 7am when he asked the motel manager for batteries for his electric shaver.
Mark Lundy’s defence fought back. They agreed that the time of death was probably not earlier but later. They used this fact to show that the Crown’s original case had many mistakes. Like witness statements, for instance. Although police felt that Margaret Dance, the neighbour who saw a man with a blonde wig was believable, Lundy’s defence tried their best to attack her credibility. They presented a review she wrote for an eye clinic in a local newspaper in 2007. It says:
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the vision I have not had for over 60 years – in spite of now being able to see my wrinkles and cobwebs in the house!”
Sixty years of bad vision – yet she was able to testify that she saw Lundy – running in a wig – on the night of the murder. Defence did not find this testimony very credible.
Another neighbour’s evidence that didn’t fit into the original timeline, was that of Tupe Tupa. He was standing outside his house on the night of the 29th of August, talking to his dad in Samoa on his phone. He said that the lights at the back of the Lundy house were on. Cell phone records showed that Tupe’s call was at 10:56pm and lasted for about 10 minutes. The next morning, first responders noted that all lights in the house were OFF.
The most damning evidence in the first case was, without a doubt, was the issue of Christine’s brain tissue on Lundy’s shirt. His defence team set out to prove that the sample did not come from a human, but from a chilli beef and cheese pie that Lundy had eaten the night before.
The Crown had Dutch scientist, Dr Laetitia Sijen, test the sample for RNA. RNA is similar to DNA, but where DNA cannot tell what the tissue is, but who it comes from, RNA can tell where on the body the sample comes from. The tests only concluded that the sample had a bigger chance of being from a human than from an animal – it wasn’t 100% conclusive. Mark Lundy’s defence wanted this evidence thrown out, but they didn’t succeed.
After a seven-week trial and about 16 hours of deliberation, on April 1st 2015, the jury found Mark Lundy guilty yet again.
Despite this, Lundy maintained his innocence. As he refused to admit guilt, he would never be eligible for parole.
In 2009, a couple of years before the second trial, journalist Mark White wrote an investigative article for the magazine North and South. In the article: “Lundy Murders: What the jury didn’t hear” he unearths evidence that raised questions about Lundy’s first conviction.
The article also debunks the original 7pm time of death theory. Christine was a creature of habit and the chances of her an Amber being asleep in bed at 7pm were highly unlikely.
Also, back in Petone, two motel guests recalled seeing a blue Ford Fairmont parked, between 6 and 7pm, at the Foreshore Motor Inn where Lundy was staying on August 29th. Again, breaking down the original theory.
Margaret Dance’s testimony that she saw Lundy on the night was not air tight. She also mentioned that the car the person was running to was parked in front of her house. The car in question was parked across the road from a friend of Lundy’s house – under a street light. Would he have taken the chance of parking where he or his car could easily be identified close to his home? Another neighbour said there was a blueish car parked, yes, but it was a smaller Ford, like a Fiesta, and an older model. Not the larger sedan Ford Fairmont sedan that Lundy owned.
The article also questions the forensic evidence. Firstly, there is a question about the paint fragments found on Christine’s skull that matched paint from Mark Lundy’s tools. In all, there were 47 fragments. Is it possible for so many fragments to come off a tomahawk during an attack?
Forensic agency, ESR tested Lundy’s other tools that were marked with blue and orange paint. They knocked them against a hard surface, multiple times, but NO flakes came off. Also, out of 18 paint fragments from Christine’s skull, forensic scientists noted 16 were contaminated.
Questions were also raised around Lundy’s shirt with the alleged brain matter… If Lundy had planned this murder and managed to dispose of the murder weapon and the alleged coveralls, why would he leave his incriminating shirt in the car?
With no blood on any of his clothes or anywhere in his car, Lundy had to have worn coveralls. But where was there the proof? There was no receipt or witnesses who could support the fact that Lundy ever owned coveralls.
There was even more unexplained evidence at the crime scene that was never mentioned during the first trial. Lundy’s appeal lawyer, Jonathan Eaton claimed that, in the conservatory with the broken window hatch, an unidentified footprint was found. And even more damning: there was unidentified DNA found, as well as an unidentified fibre. The fibre which not match Lundy’s much discussed polo shirt. Unidentified hairs were found in Christine Lundy’s clenched hands. There were also seven fingerprints at the crime scene that had never been identified.
Lundy’s motive of killing for insurance money was also brought under the spotlight: firstly, the increased insurance policies weren’t taken out at Mark Lundy’s request. In fact, the Lundys were planning to increase their cover, but they never completed the paperwork. Mark Lundy also did not claim the insurance after Christine’s murder. Besides, if he was after the money, he would have committed the murder much earlier in the year. The deadline for payment to the vendor of the vineyard was due two days after the murder.
There are more questions about Mark Lundy’s behaviour. Why would he hire a prostitute to serve as an alibi? If he had planned the murder, having a prostitute as an alibi would be risky. It would tarnish his reputation as a loving husband and father. If all he wanted to do was to establish an alibi, why not simply purchase something from a convenience store, or talk to one of the guests at the motel?
A number of people have doubts about the conviction of Mark Lundy. A group called FACTUAL Trust, which is an acronym for 'For Amber & Christine - Truth Uncovered About Lundys' was founded to fight for justice in the Lundy case. The aim is to find out – if Mark Lundy is innocent as he claims – who then killed his family?
No one deserves to die, but least of all a mother and her young child who was no threat to anyone.
There were rumours and theories that emerged in the early days of the investigation. A neighbour of the Lundy’s vanished soon after the murders. Could it have been an intruder, high on P (a drug like Meth), in a home invasion gone wrong? None of these leads ever went anywhere. There was no concrete evidence to back them up.
The bottom line is, Christine and Amber were most likely killed in the early morning hours of August 30th. The attack on Christine was much worse than the one on young Amber, who was probably only in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mark Lundy is arguably the most hated man in NZ. He is seen as an overweight, greedy, sleaze who slept with a prostitute hours before killing his well-liked wife and daughter, then faked debilitating grief at their funeral and still refuses to admit guilt.
He made contradicting statements and gave inconsistent information about his day in Wellington. He said he met clients earlier than he did, or that he saw them when he didn’t. This made him look like a liar.
But again: the outcome of a trial should not rest solely on the character of a person. Evidence should be presented and accepted beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mark Lundy’s defence attorney Jonathan Eaton was well aware that his client was not likely to win any popularity contests. He said:
"Everyone remembers [Mark Lundy’s] behaviour at the funeral… The public perception that he feigned distress has entered New Zealand folklore... He has engendered no public sympathy."
But a murder trial is not a popularity contest. It should be based on evidence alone.
Lundy managed to bring his case in front of the Supreme Court in Wellington, appealing his conviction for a second time. The appeal trial started in October 2017.
As it stands today, Mark Lundy’s appeal lies before three appellate judges and a decision should be made before 2018 is done. If he is found innocent, his conviction would arguably be one of the biggest cases of wrongful conviction in New Zealand history.
Keep an eye on our Facebook Page and we will let you know as soon as there are any updates.
If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes. You would enjoy the New Zealand documentary “Investigator”.
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This was The Evidence Locker. Thank you for listening!
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