6 Mar 2015

Court told dog heard 'nutting off'

9:34 am on 6 March 2015

A dog was heard "nutting off" near the Lundy family home the night Christine and Amber Lundy were bludgeoned to death, the High Court in Wellington has been told.

Mark Lundy

Mark Lundy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mark Lundy, 56, is accused of murdering his 38-year-old wife, Christine, and seven-year-old daughter, Amber, whose bodies were found in their Palmerston North home on 30 August 2000; the Crown claims Mr Lundy killed his wife for her insurance money and Amber because she saw what he was doing to her mother.

Key points from day 19:

  • Traces of pig, sheep, cattle and human DNA found in smears on a polo shirt belonging to Mr Lundy, according to a veterinary forensics expert.
  • Neighbours report hearing dogs barking, a woman's scream and seeing an unknown Caucasian man in the area around the Lundy's Karamea Crescent home on the evening of 29 August.
  • Defence suggests neighbours' reports not further reported as they did not fit with what the pathologist believed to be the time of death.
  • Mr Lundy offered to help police investigating the deaths of his wife and daughter "in any way he could", four months after they were killed.

Inspector Ross Grantham, a detective sergeant in 2000 and the officer in charge of the Lundy homicide investigation, gave evidence today and was questioned by defence lawyer Ross Burns on the area canvass done of the neighbourhood.

Mr Burns said one neighbour reported a dog "nutting off" between 8pm and 8.30pm, another that a dog was barking about 9pm and another spoke of a "normally quiet dog [going] beserk" about 10pm. Another neighbour heard a dog barking at 10.30pm, while someone else heard a high-pitched female cry and yet someone else saw a male Caucasian, of medium build and with fair hair, walking across the cul-de-sac which backed on to the Lundy home.

Neighbour Tupe Tupai has already given evidence of seeing the Lundy's sliding conservatory door open about 10.50pm and of hearing the sound of smashing glass before midnight.

Mark Lundy's Lawyer Ross Burns questions police witness Inspector Ross Grantham

Mark Lundy's Lawyer Ross Burns questions police witness Inspector Ross Grantham Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Inspector Ross Grantham is sworn in at the Lundy trial

Inspector Ross Grantham Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Burns questioned Mr Grantham on whether any of these inquiries were followed up, or whether the inquiry team had decided Mrs Lundy and Amber had died earlier in the evening within two hours of eating McDonalds for their dinner, based on the pathologist's opinion that was what had happened.

Mr Grantham said that was a focus of the inquiry but not the sole focus, and that anything considered of interest from the neighbourhood canvass had been followed up on.

Earlier today, Mr Grantham told the court Mr Lundy requested a meeting with him on 4 December 2000 - for months after the deaths - to ask about progress on the inquiry. Mr Lundy's lawyer was at the meeting.

Mr Grantham said he asked Mr Lundy if he would agree to the re-examination of his car and a suit bag, which had been found in the car. He "readily" agreed to both requests, and also volunteered he owned a tomahawk which would be either in his garage or in a storage lockup.

"I left with the accused stating he wanted to help us in any way he could," Mr Grantham said.

Pig, sheep, cattle and human DNA found on Lundy's shirt

Tissue found on Mark Lundy's shirt contained pig, beef and sheep DNA, as well as human DNA, tests conducted in the United States found.

Elizabeth Wictum, previously director of veterinary laboratory forensics at the University of California

Elizabeth Wictum, previously director of veterinary laboratory forensics at the University of California Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Elizabeth Wictum, who was previously the director of veterinary laboratory forensics at the University of California, said she looked at three vials of DNA from New Zealand Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research. The samples were taken from smears on Mr Lundy's polo shirt.

Mrs Wictum said she found weak traces of pig, sheep and cattle DNA in the smears but also markers previously seen in human DNA tests.

"We did see a very large peak that we had seen previously ... when we tested it against human."

Mrs Wictum's lab did not report on human DNA, but the marker for human DNA showed up in the tests, she said.

The positive results were so weak it indicated the source could have been processed food, such as sausages, Mrs Wictum said.

Sergeant Robin Walker, who was the Palmerston North police photographer in 2000, said he wore paper overalls, as well as gloves and booties, when he took photos at the Lundy family home on 31 August and 1 September.

He changed them every few hours, and the used ones were disposed of in a rubbish bin, he said.

However, under cross examination by defence lawyer David Hislop, QC, Mr Walker admitted he sometimes put the same overalls on after taking a break and that he sometimes wore his protective gear out to his van to get gear before going back into the house.

Mr Walker was involved in the examination of Mr Lundy's car at the Palmerston North police station on 3 September and said he wore gloves to take photos of it but not full protective gear. He could not remember what others involved in the examination wore, he said.

* Clarification - For the avoidance of doubt, please note that Radio New Zealand reporter Sharon Lundy is no relation to Mark Lundy.