Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Lundy and Me.

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  • Andrew Ferguson,

    “I believed the Crown theory of the case, ie the around 7pm murders, was nonsense. I believed that a far more realistic theory was that the deaths had occurred after 11pm" a memo from Lundy's defence counsel (now a judge) to the Privy Council.

    Since Jul 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Andrew Ferguson,

    Interesting - I can't find that quote anywhere - what's your source please? :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    There's something about this case that has always intrigued me and your post has pretty much explained what - that, yeah, Lundy did it, but the police got the story wrong.

    The media seemed to be on the side of David Bain (oh, that loveable nerd in the Cosby jumper), but there isn't really that same feeling towards Mark Lundy. The circus will be most interesting.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • phillip melville,

    Strange seeing all the old faces on the telly again this evening. I think I told you that I felt it was the brain tissue that ultimately tipped the jury to a guilty verdict, and I guess if the PC have established the science is uncertain (and that might be being generous) then he probably deserves another trial. It'll be fascinating to see if the Crown continue with the early evening time of death hypothesis, though, and if advances in forensic science unearths new evidence. Right, back to reading the judgement.

    Geeky postscript: would a not guilty verdict mean the famous funeral vision would go back to being a horrendous invasion of privacy?

    petone • Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Not long after I let the story go – I moved on to another show – I was out with a camera operator who’d been there at the funeral, who’d filmed Mark Lundy and claimed there were no tears behind those hysterical sobs.

    That always got to beloved and I: Lundy is such a terrible actor. That funeral performance was hollow, and I can believe the no tears claim. I'll be examining the video when it is inevitably replayed on the TV news

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Ferguson, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Since Jul 2013 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Andrew Ferguson,

    Ta. A little bedtime reading...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I'm of the opinion that we have a history of convicting people of crimes because they just aren't likeable at all, or are seen as strange in some way. See Lundy, Bain, and Watson particularly. I don't know whether Lundy did it or not. As with Bain, the only people who know, really, are the men themselves. I have no investment in either of these cases, and just find it very strange that so many people do - totally unrelated to the families, and to whom verdicts of guilty or innocent actually make no difference. I know it's interesting to some, but it just makes me uneasy, this national rush to judgement.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Solved by the old bill...?
    What a shame there were no smart electricity meters back then, or something that could tell what power was used in the house and when - just a passing thought...
    We're from the future, we want to help...
    Once (inevitably?) all our domestic devices have IP addresses, there will possibly be another arrow available in the quiver of investigators' chain-of-events armoury...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    Legal question: If/when this goes back to court, does the prosecution have to stick with the 7pm murder theory or are they allowed to put forward the alternative late night murder story?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I’m of the opinion that we have a history of convicting people of crimes because they just aren’t likeable at all, or are seen as strange in some way.

    Lindy Chamberlain, anyone? No matter what the evidence was around the disappearance, the court of public opinion strung her up for being a... well, rather dowdy 7th Day Adventist who didn't dissolve into hysterics on cue for the TV cameras.

    And personally, I don't think the media's relentless demands for a quick result are particularly useful either. Remember the Kahui Twins case, and day after day of "still no arrest, what are the Police doing?" stories. Of course, the ongoing investigation was a perfectly legit news story; but it's more than a little naive to think bizarre levels of media pressure to instantly clap someone in irons couldn't possible lead to corners being cut.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    At the time of the Murder I owned a phone which kindly told me which cell-tower I was connected to at any particular time. I lived 30 minutes drive from Petone, but was regularly connected to the Lower Hutt cell tower. Thus the whole "his phone was connected to this cell tower" argument was less convincing to me. It's why I was willing to give the prosecution some leeway on the driving time issues.

    I'd also suggest that different people have different reactions to grief and stress. Lets say Lundy didn't do it, and his grief reaction was essentially to lock down all external emotion. Let's also posit that he's smart enough to figure out that he's being looked at seriously as a suspect, and that he thinks his own reaction looks bad. Trying not to look guilty, he tries to act the grief out the way he thinks people expect, and is a terrible actor.

    To me, it isn't proof of guilt.

    I agree the brain matter evidence was presented as pretty conclusive, although the North and South article casts a fair bit of doubt on the validity of it.

    The judge said that if the timing of the deaths wasn't 7pm, or thereabouts, then the case fell over. What was Lundy supposedly up to at 1am to prevent him doing it late at night instead of early in the evening?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I’m of the opinion that we have a history of convicting people of crimes because they just aren’t likeable at all, or are seen as strange in some way.

    I tend to agree with you, and I don’t trust myself to judge this case (certainly not from where I am). I already know what my reaction is to having seen those funeral pictures of Mark Lundy, and I can’t rationalise it.

    It’s reasonable for the media and public to be interested in justice being done correctly and effectively. Criticising the approach of Police to mess up a prosecution like this (or the legal system messing up a defence) is fair game. But there do sometimes seem to be an excess of arm-chair investigators and juries out there who are willing not just to comment on the case, but to draw concrete conclusions, often based on very little or biasedly-presented information. It’s encouraged, of course.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report Reply

  • Garth Bray,

    I was Turner to Damian's Hooch at SUNDAY. Or, maybe it was vice versa. The story we were working at showed one thing to me. The standard you have to meet for bringing science into the courtroom in New Zealand is pretty hit and miss - my expert vs your expert (which one has a more plausible voice or whiter teeth, maybe?).
    My dated recollection is that Dr Miller may have struggled to testify on the conclusions from his novel IHC test in a US Federal court in Texas, where he practiced, as judges there look at peer-reviewing and other empirical standards before allowing experts to put it before a jury.
    I'd be fascinated to hear if a PA legal eagle or Edgeler Beagle, fancied reading the judgement from JCPC today and considering these issues, and their impact on our justice system, irrespective of any future verdict for Mark Lundy.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Dec 2007 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Hey Garth - nice to see you commenting here - thanks for your work breaking the news last night.

    Garth was indeed the Hooch/Turner in this story, and the camera operator I refer to who opened my eyes to the 'later' theory has also pitched in above (hi Phillip). I didn't mention names because it's not my place to do so, so it's good you've both shown your faces.

    As far as I'm aware, a re-trial is a fresh start, so police could take any approach they want, but to radically depart from the set of facts at the first trial would open them up for a great deal of criticism. But they might want to find better experts than Drs Miller and Pang.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Stephen R,

    Thus the whole “his phone was connected to this cell tower” argument was less convincing to me.

    ...and surely, all that indicates is that his phone was in that cell tower's range, it's not surgically attached to him, nor is it accused of anything...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    …and surely, all that indicates is that his phone was in that cell tower’s range

    Actually it's based on two telephone calls he's confirmed to have made connected to those cell towers.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • David MacGregor,

    Having a number of experts in arcane, specialised scientific fields pronounce the accused innocent or guilty seems like a curious basis for arriving at an hypotheical verdict. Examining an article of clothing or some tissue allows the expert to conclude, with some informed credibility about the question they are asked – e.g. ‘Could this be brain tissue from the deceased and what is the statistical liklihood of it being from a different person?’, but to extrapolate that into – ‘Does this mean, in your opinion, they are guilty?’ has no value whatsoever. It is for the jury to decide, when presented with this evidence – in the context of other evidence and their evaluation of the witness testimony…
    Truth in the judicial system is and always has been hit and miss depending on the biases and prejudice of the day. Humans have always been as wary of ‘otherness’ (not like us – women living alone with cats an warts must be witches and when bad things happen it must be because of them – in parts of Africa witchcraft is still a vital part of society and affects crime and punishment), we are also hardwired to look for patterns – as described above – so we look for reasons, sometimes unreasonably – as in the prosecution’s insistence on their drive-time patter and the jury’s acceptance of it. The less said about the evidence of psychics the better.
    This is an extraordinary case. As was David Bain’s, Allen Arthur Thomas’ and, no doubt, innumerable others in New Zealand where the police are so determined to secure a conviction for their own complex web of reasons, the media – increasingly – portray the accused as if they were simply players on a reality TV stage – for the crowd’s amusement and we, the mob (ranging in informed ignorance from Sensible Sentencing Trusters to outright anti-establishment conspiracy theorists) are swept along and drive the whole bizarre process. Politicians poll our meta-mood to determine the degree with which to decree some hardening of posture on ‘law and order’ – not to reduce crime or modify its effect on society – but to demonstrate their superhero ability.
    Where’s Atticus Finch when you need him? Oh, that’s right, that turned out badly too.

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to David MacGregor,

    but to extrapolate that into - 'Does this mean, in your opinion, they are guilty?' has no value whatsoever.

    I'm not sure if you're saying that's what we were trying to do? It wasn't. I'd never ask a scientist anything other than a scientific question. "Is this, in your opinion, brain tissue?' "Is there any other type of tissue it could be?" and so forth. If I used some narrative shorthand that led you to believe otherwise, please re-read with that in mind.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Evan Yates,

    According to Bryan Bruce's 2009(?) documentary, once you re-arrange the timing due to the uncertainty of speed of food digestion, the rest of the night's events become quite feasible as outlined by the prosecution. No need for land-speed record driving
    If a retrial is ordered it will be interesting to see if they go with that re-arrangement.

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 197 posts Report Reply

  • David MacGregor, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Problem was, every person we furnished with the information, every scientific opinion we sought, from a forensic pathologist to an expert in immunohistochemistry said they agreed with the findings presented by the prosecution. (We didn’t ask about the stomach contents evidence, and I agree it seems pretty weak).

    I took it from this statement that the patchwork of expert evidence - and I mean that simply as a number of things sewn together to make a whole - amounted to conclusive proof of guilt in your mind.
    A human being can have all the elements of DNA and yet if one sub-microscopic part of the genetic sequence is disturbed an otherwise utterly viable being might simply not make it past the early stages of life - at the dissection the bone scientist, the brain scientist, the skin scientist (you get the picture) can all pronounce that, from the evidence they examine of the corpse, it would have constituted a healthy human - aside from its apparent lack of life. It might take Dr House to piece together the fragments in a save the day Hail Mary diagnosis - albeit to late for the subject of this tortured metaphor.
    I don't know whether Lundy is guilty or innocent. The Privvy Council think he is innocent (if we take innocent until proven guilty as the standard). Like everyone else I have to rely on the media's reporting of the matter to form my worthless opinions. I can say for certain that I wouldn't set Lundy in front of the BNZ's emotion detector. The bloody thing doesn't work. Or maybe we should. Then toss a coin to determine if we should seek a suitable goat whose entrails will provide the evidence required (with results vetted by an Armenian goat entrail reading expert).

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Feb 2007 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Evan Yates,

    the rest of the night’s events become quite feasible as outlined by the prosecution. No need for land-speed record driving

    I'm not quite sure what you're saying here. Are you saying the same as I'm saying above? The rest of the night's events as outlined by the prosecution have everything taking place between two phone calls from Petone at 5.43pm and 8.28pm - that's what requires the land-speed record trip.

    As I've indicated, the prosecution went to great lengths to show it happened in that timeframe. The witness. The stomach contents. The computer etc. They can't just say "oh no, we meant later" without completely invalidating much of that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Damian Christie,

    the ring of truth… or verisimilitude?

    Actually it’s based on two telephone calls he’s confirmed to have made connected to those cell towers

    ah, the meta data –
    did talking take place?
    (ie corrorborated conversation)
    do we know the content?

    or was there just connections?
    – where would one find that info?
    In precis preferably…
    :- )

    Edit: in light of the times given, perhaps there was a way to make the later call, without physically being there - would depend on whether a conversation took place, I guess - just speculating here...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to David MacGregor,

    I took it from this statement that the patchwork of expert evidence – and I mean that simply as a number of things sewn together to make a whole – amounted to conclusive proof of guilt in your mind.

    No, I was really talking about the process of trying to research a story, and how I couldn't find what I needed for a story that began "Mark Lundy is innocent", and that many of the inconsistencies in the prosecution story could be removed with a change in the hypothetical time of the murder.

    The Privvy Council think he is innocent

    In a very limited and legal sense of the word. In much the same way as the guy who allegedly stabbed the cop in the face yesterday is 'innocent' right now, yes, like that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Edit: in light of the times given, perhaps there was a way to make the later call, without physically being there – would depend on whether a conversation took place, I guess

    He spoke to a friend about a business deal. I'm not sure given how cell towers work how he could make a call without 'physically being there'. You could suggest that never happened, and both he and Lundy were lying for some reason, but if you go down that path you could also argue that he was never in Petone, and anyone who saw him was also lying, and the prostitute never saw him, she was lying... I guess I'm saying it's never been regarded as a contentious fact in the whole thing and the 'later' explanation is a lot simpler.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

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