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Double murderer Mark Lundy up for second chance at parole

Convicted murderer Mark Lundy will find out tomorrow if he will be released from jail - 23 years after he bludgeoned his wife and seven-year-old daughter to death.

By Jeremy Wilkinson of Open Justice by NZ Herald

Mark Lundy before the verdict.

Mark Lundy in the dock during his trial for the 2000 murders of his wife Christine Lundy and daughter Amber Lundy in the High Court at Wellington in 2015. Photo: RNZ / Sharon Lundy

Convicted murderer Mark Lundy will find out tomorrow if he will be released from jail - 23 years after he bludgeoned his wife and seven-year-old daughter to death.

Lundy, who maintains his innocence, has served 21 years behind bars for the double homicide of his wife Christine and daughter Amber at their Palmerston North home in 2000.

On Thursday, he will appear before the Parole Board to see if he is eligible for release. The hearing comes after he first appeared last August and told board members he was an innocent man.

The board declined his release on the basis it had considerable concern about the lack of a safety plan for his life outside prison walls.

Part of that plan, Lundy told the board, was to make boutique pōhutukawa clocks that he could sell for around $200 after discovering an affinity for woodworking as an inmate.

He would also like to start attending services at an Anglican church, do carpentry with a charity and be able to visit the graves of his family.

Last year his lawyer, Julie-Anne Kincade KC, said Lundy would not be a risk to the community because he had exhibited good behaviour behind bars, had no previous history of violence, a low statistical risk of re-offending score, a low future risk of violence score and letters of support from friends and family.

The board asked Lundy whether he had completed a safety plan. He said it was difficult to put together a safety plan for how to rejoin society as an offender when he had not done anything wrong.

"If I had committed the offence, I would've pled guilty and I would've been out a long time ago," he said, adding that he could have been eligible for parole five to eight years ago.

"But I have vehemently denied the offending because I did not do it … and there is nothing I can say to alleviate that for you."

The board said this was a moot point as him being granted parole would have depended on the decisions of earlier parole boards.

At his last hearing, Lundy told the board he wanted to return to Manawatū to visit the graves of his family.

"I would like to go to the cemetery to see my parents and my girls, but that would be purely at the approval of my probation officer," he said.

Lundy's case manager told the board they had not worked on a safety plan for his release because he was still in "denial" about the murders.

The board said people often do their own safety plans, alleging Lundy would have seen other people's plans over the years.

Lundy said he had never read one.

Christine, Mark and Amber Lundy.

(From left); Christine Lundy, Mark Lundy and Amber Lundy, pictured on September 1, 2000. Photo: SUPPLIED

"I know they have them and those people all have triggers for their offending. I have not offended, so there are no triggers for me… that I'm aware of," he said.

"So, to the best of my knowledge, a safety plan is based around those triggers and how to avoid them. So I could not work out how to actually do a safety plan as such."

Conviction and appeal

It has been 21 years since Mark Lundy took his case to the Court of Appeal, with the hope it would overturn his conviction of murdering his wife and daughter.

The Crown argued he travelled home from a business trip to Petone and back in one evening to murder his family.

Lundy was convicted in March 2002. After an unsuccessful appeal in August of that year, his non-parole period increased from 17 to 20 years.

Another appeal to the Privy Council in 2013 predicated on the time of the victims' deaths, the presence of organic tissue on Lundy's shirt and the time Christine's computer was turned off resulted in his convictions being overturned for a second trial.

The retrial in 2015 expanded the window for the time of death to 14 hours, with the Crown alleging Lundy may have returned to Palmerston North early in the morning to murder his family.

Evidence that placed the killings in the early evening was used in the Crown's case this time. This included the barely digested McDonald's meals in the victims' stomachs and the testimony of a self-described psychic who said she saw a fat person in a blond curly wig running away from the area at 7pm on that Tuesday night.

Lundy was found guilty of both murders once more, and he returned to prison.

An appeal of his second conviction was launched to the Court of Appeal in October 2017, but was dismissed a year later. A concurrent appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed at the end of that same year.

Te Kāhui Tātari Ture - also known as the Criminal Cases Review Commission - is investigating an application for a review of the case, after which it will decide whether to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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