Wednesday 17 June, 9.30pm
Award-winning documentary maker Bryan Bruce returns to TV ONE with more in-depth investigations into unsolved and puzzling New Zealand crimes in the local Real Crime series, The Investigator, tonight at 9.30pm.
As host and writer, Bruce takes a look at the justice system, from the police enquiry through to sentencing, and reveals the ethics and issues as highlighted by particular cases. He unravels each case to reveal the sometimes embarrassing, sometimes tragic, and sometimes deadly reasons cases remain puzzling or unsolved. The result, he hopes, will give New Zealanders pause to think about what we really expect from our police, our lawyers, our judges and our law makers.
Tonight The Investigator re-examines the controversial case of Mark Lundy, convicted of murdering his wife and child in 2000. In April of 2002, travelling salesman Mark Lundy was convicted of murdering his wife Christine and his seven-year-old daughter Amber with an axe.
The Crown case against Lundy was based on carefully gathered forensic evidence, including blue and orange flecks of paint collected from Christine’s skull which were consistent with the paint Lundy used to identify his carpentry tools which were kept in the couple’s locked garage. But most damning was the fact that a shirt Lundy had worn on his business trip to Wellington had a tiny piece of his wife’s brain tissue on it.
In January of this year North And South magazine raised a number of concerns about the conviction of Mark Lundy, claiming there were a number of things the jury did not hear and that new expert opinion raised serious doubts about his conviction.
“A crucial issue – and perhaps the only real remaining issue in is this case,” says Bruce, “is the time of death”. At trial, the Crown called Palmerston North pathologist Dr James Pang, who did the post mortem on Christine and Amber Lundy and testified that after examining the stomach contents of the two victims, they had died within one hour of eating their last meal. There was a McDonald’s meal purchased from the Rangitikei Street outlet shortly before 6pm on the night of Tuesday April 29, 2000, so Dr Pang placed their time of death at around 7pm that night.
Lundy claims he was in his Petone motel in Wellington at that time. He received a telephone call from his wife and child at 5.30pm that night and later received a call through a Petone cellphone tower at 8.28pm, leaving a three hour time window in which the Crown argued he drove at high speed to his Palmerston North home, then quickly back to his motel room in time for his second call.
Bruce says, “Justice Ellis told the jury that if they decided the journey in three hours was impossible, they might well consider it ‘fatal’ to the Crown case.
“Well, that Palmerston North jury must have decided based on local knowledge that the trip could be done in that time,” says Bruce. “All I can say is I tried and failed miserably, and I don’t think it can be done. However, I don’t think that the case rests on the time of the journey, but on the time of death.”
Bruce got a court order to gain access to all the trial documents and the Case On Appeal. He has poured over these, and consulted with forensic experts and some of the world’s leading gastroenterologists and pathologists. As a result, he has come to a startling conclusion about the Lundy case based on his painstaking research. But he is tight lipped about what he has discovered: “You’ll just have to watch the programme,” he says.