Ten years on and 12,000 miles away from murder case that captivated New Zealand, a London hearing decides on freedom of man convicted of bludgeoning wife and child to death


More than a decade after Mark Lundy was convicted of bludgeoning his wife and child to death, one of New Zealand's most controversial murders came before the Privy Council in London yesterday.

In a dramatic claim, worthy of a case that has inspired heated debate in the antipodean nation, Mr Lundy's lawyer insisted that less than a week ago they had received evidence that could have been vital to the defence but was withheld. The court, he added, might draw the inference that there had been a "cover up" by the police.

The document concerned, David Hislop QC told four of the UK's most senior judges sitting alongside New Zealand's Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias, showed that a prosecution expert had deemed key forensic evidence had degenerated too much to be strong enough to convict. Yet the DNA formed a central plank of the prosecution case.

Twelve thousand miles from the provincial town where the murders took place, the Lundy appeal is likely to be the last New Zealand case brought before Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. More than two dozen smaller Commonwealth countries and British Overseas Territories still observe the ancient right of final appeal to London, but the Lundy case has only come to the UK because it pre-dates the 2004 establishment of New Zealand's own Supreme Court.

Yesterday Lundy's sister Caryl Jones and her husband David, who insist they are hopeful the 54-year-old will be cleared, were in court to hear the evidence. Back in New Zealand, however, his late wife's family have described it as "gut-wrenching" to have the matter go back to court. Her brother Glenn Weggery complained that the new hearing has brought back nightmarish memories of the morning he discovered the bodies.

Lundy, who sold kitchen furniture, left him home in Palmerston North on the morning of 29 August 2000 and travelled 90 miles to Petone. At the six-week trial, the prosecution claimed that he returned home and murdered her wife Christine, 38, and their seven-year-old daughter Amber in a frenzied attack at around 7pm that night before returning to his motel to see a prostitute. Evidence of Mrs Lundy's DNA, said to be brain tissue, was discovered on his polo shirt though police never found any murder weapon. He was found guilty of their murder in 2002 and months later the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and increased his minimum sentence without parole to 20 years.

But his supporters claim it is miscarriage of justice. Over the years, led by horse breeder Geoff Levick, they have built up a case which they claim proves his innocence. They insist that Lundy would have not had time to make the return trip in a three hour window between documented phone calls from Petone. They also question the scientific evidence as well as the time of death, pointing out that both the lights and the computer were on in the house long after that hour.

Yesterday Mr Hislop said that the appeal would challenge two key planks of the prosecution case, the "fundamentally flawed" DNA evidence on the shirt as well as the time of death. He added it would also be looking at computer evidence as well as claims that the there was a failure to adequately direct the jury regarding identification.

"Last Tuesday we received a communication from the Crown. It is a substantial development as it relates to the state of the tissue taken from the appellant's polo shirt and hitherto had not been disclosed," said the barrister.

The document was from the senior officer in the case, Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham, requesting permission from his superior to seek out an expert in the United States. Within it he explained that the neuro-pathologist they had consulted, Dr Heng Teoh, had said the 58 day lapse in time before the cells on the shirt were found meant they had degenerated badly.

"He didn't think Mark Lundy should be convicted of murder on the strength of the cells," added the QC

The barrister said that material was never disclosed to the defence before the trial, adding : "We have absolutely no confidence whatsoever that the officer in charge met with his disclosure obligations."

While refusing to put the allegation himself, Mr Hislop said the Privy Council might draw an inference that "someone misled or covered up to secure a conviction".

Lundy's lawyers are asking the Judicial Committee of Privy Council to set aside jury verdicts on the basis that they were unreasonable and could not be supported by evidence. New Zealand's deputy solicitor-general Cameron Mander will be responding to the case for the Crown Law Office.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments