Double murderer Mark Lundy's parole rejected, denies killing his ...
Mark Lundy is supported as he leaves the church after the funeral service for his wife Christine and daughter Amber in Palmerston North, September 7, 2000. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Convicted murderer Mark Lundy has been denied parole again after saying he will go to his grave denying that he killed his wife and daughter.
“I will go to my death bed still saying that I did not kill my family. I cannot lie in that respect,” he told the Parole Board from Tongariro Prison this morning.
“If I had committed the offence I would have put my hand up and said I’d done it because that’s the way I am.”
Lundy’s wife Christine and their 7-year-old daughter Amber were hacked to death at their Palmerston North home, likely with an axe or tomahawk, in 2000.
The murder weapon was never found and Lundy, who appeared so distressed at the funeral he needed to be supported by two friends, has always maintained someone else killed them.
Today Lundy and the board butted heads over his denial again as he maintained his steadfast innocence for the crime. The board’s chairman, Sir Ron Young, questioned how the panel was meant to assess a safety plan for release from prison if Lundy’s argument was that he wasn’t any risk in the first place.
He said that rehabilitative programmes in prison were designed on the basis that the offender was required to talk about their offence in detail as well as their feelings leading up to the actual crime.
“The whole purpose of risk-based rehabilitation is to say let’s understand why someone has offended, and help them understand why they’ve done it and put in place support and counselling so they can avoid those situations in the future,” Young said.
“We don’t understand why you’ve committed this crime, we don’t understand what the motivations were, we don’t understand what the triggers are.”
Lundy responded: “I do not know how I can allay your reservations because I cannot… there’s just… I did not commit this crime, so there’s no way I can allay the problem. I’m sorry.”
He said that if he’d pleaded guilty he could have been sitting before the Parole Board nearly seven years earlier. Instead he maintained his innocence throughout his trial in 2002, the appeal the same year and then through his retrial in 2015.
Young said that it was impossible to properly assess a safety plan that didn’t take into account the factors that lead up to the offending.
“What we have here is you convicted of a murder where there was a high degree of planning, it was planned not only to have an alibi but also to try and to effectively mislead the police into thinking something else had happened,” Young said.
“It was an extremely brutal murder of a woman that you loved and obviously had a child with.
“Then it seems probable that your daughter saw what was happening and you killed her because she could have given evidence against you revealing that you were the murderer. So you were prepared to sacrifice her life to ensure that you weren’t convicted.
“So you would appreciate given that broad factual material why we’d be pretty keen to understand what drove all that?”
“I can’t tell you a motive for something I didn’t do,” Lundy replied.
A lack of a safety plan was the primary reason the board denied Lundy’s release from prison in August last year when he first became eligible after being first convicted in 2002.
Lundy submitted a plan this time with the help of a psychologist and case manager but Young said it “didn’t offer much” because it didn’t identify any high-risk situations because “effectively you say there are none arising from your offending”.
“So it’s not really a safety plan, Mr Lundy, in the way the Parole Board views it because of the denial of your offending,” he said.
“All I can say is I do not have a high risk of reoffending because I haven’t offended,” Lundy replied.
On the night of their murders Lundy had checked into a motel in Petone, Wellington, where he called an escort about 11.30pm.
It was fiercely contested during his first trial whether or not it was physically possible for Lundy to have travelled between Wellington and his family home in a time that would have allowed him to be in the house at the time of the murders.
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, 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.
Lundy, now 64, was found guilty of both murders once more, and he returned to prison where he’s remained since.
Lundy’s Lawyer, Julie-Anne Kincaid KC, told the board at the start of today’s hearing that her client had been a model prisoner and was at extremely low risk of reoffending.
She said Lundy had not had a single instance of misconduct during his entire period of imprisonment and every Corrections staff member who interacted with him noted how polite and easy he was to deal with.
“It’s significant that all the people who work with Mr Lundy, without exception, speak consistently in a similar manner about his politeness and engagement and generally his behaviour,” she said.
“He’s also been working outside the wire and he’s certainly viewed as being in a trusted position by the people who work with him.”
She said he’d completed psychological assessments that noted he was low-risk as well as completing a six-month drug-treatment programme.
“There’s nothing more that can be recommended to progress his rehabilitation or reintegration within Tongariro,” Kincaid said.
Lundy told the board that the dependency treatment programme he’d completed changed his life.
“I must admit when I started that programme I did it as a box-ticking exercise but I was pleasantly surprised about what I learned about myself while I was on it. It has actually changed my life,” he said.
“I identified that I suffer from insecurity. And I have always done things to be accepted and I have learned I don’t need to do that. I’ve got to concentrate on my needs, not the wants of others.
“The biggest one though is in prison I’ve closed myself off from others. This is so as to avoid being perceived as vulnerable and being taken advantage of. When I got out in 2013, which I thank you for, I was still in that mode. I kept things from these people behind me and I didn’t need to.
“I withheld all the stress and pressure I was under. I was in a safe place and I didn’t even recognise it. Those are the main things I picked up.”
At his last hearing Lundy said he’d found a passion for woodworking as an inmate and expressed a desire to start making and selling boutique pōhutukawa clocks, going to church and working with charity.
Today he reiterated that love of carpentry but said due to health issues he would find working a traditional job difficult. Instead, friends and family have offered him work and he will qualify for the pension in December - though he can only collect it if he’s not behind bars.
He also noted that most employers wouldn’t hire him because of who he is, and the remainder wouldn’t for fear of driving away their customers.
Lundy said in his safety plan that he wanted to be close to family and that being isolated would put him in a position of high risk.
“By isolating myself I would be putting myself into a possible state of depression. I could come out with irrational thoughts and try to act upon them,” he said.
“I believe that isolation is never a good place to be.”
He said he was expecting an alcohol ban as a condition of release and that if he was isolated he would “probably turn to alcohol” again.
“That’s the kind of thing that would put me back in prison.”
Board member Professor Phil Brinded asked Lundy what he thought happened to his wife and child if he wasn’t the one who had murdered them.
“There are a number of possible scenarios and for me to go over them would probably take an hour. There is no physical evidence to support any of them, it’s all subjective evidence,” Lundy said.
“It’s not something that enthuses me to discuss because I get quite emotional.
“It’s the worst thing that ever happened in my life. Coming to prison is nothing compared to losing my family.”
Lundy went on to say that there were suggestions of financial issues and drug involvement as motivations for other suspects to have committed the crime. His lawyer also noted that at the first trial there were roughly 80 suspects in total.
He said his support people, including a friend and close relative, had conducted their own investigations into the crime and come up with multiple alternative scenarios.
A support person told the board there were still “many unanswered questions” about the murders.
“I have spent 23 years researching the crime. We’ve also gone to great lengths to investigate what you consider potential motive.
“I stand by my statement and my support for him and will continue to do everything in my power to help him reintegrate.”
The board disagreed with Lundy and his supporters and declined his release.
The board will release its full reasons for declining parole in writing at a later date.
Lundy won’t appear before the board again until April 2025.