Bludgeoned to death with an axe in an act of unspeakable violence in their own home, the appalling murders of 38-year-old Christine Lundy and her 7-year-old daughter Amber, have been surrounded by questions since their bodies were found on 30 August 2000 in Palmerston North, New Zealand.  In shocking developments, Mark Lundy, Christine’s husband, and Amber’s father was arrested and charged with murdering his own family six months later.

Convicted at Palmerston North High Court in 2002, Lundy was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of 17 years for a monstrous crime he maintains he did not do. An appeal the following year resulted in his minimum term being extended by three years and in 2015 after his convictions were overturned and he won the right to a new trial, Mark Lundy was convicted for a second time, once again receiving a life sentence this time at the High Court in Wellington.

Mark Lundy during his second trial in 2015.

Mark Lundy during his second trial in 2015.

A husband and father drowning in debt saw a way out through the life insurance policy on his wife, the prosecution claimed, with the death of his daughter being an unfortunate act of ‘collateral damage’ when she witnessed her father attack her mother. Her life could not be spared if he were to get away with murder, they said.

Mark Lundy was away on business on the night his family was murdered. As a salesman he was working in Wellington and staying at a hotel in Petone, 150 km away from the Lundy’s home.  During his first trial in 2002, the prosecution put to the jury that Lundy drove back to Palmerston North that night at high-speed, murdered his wife and daughter, cleaned up and got rid of the murder weapon before returning to his hotel. The following morning Lundy made a call to his brother-in-law, expressing his concern for his family who he had been unable to contact by phone.  Christine Lundy’s brother was the one to find his sister and niece dead inside the house surrounded by blood in a horrific scene.

The level of violence rained down on both Christine and Amber Lundy is difficult to comprehend. The murder weapon is believed to have been a tomahawk, a sharp-bladed axe resembling a hatchet, a weapon that has never been found. Christine Lundy was found naked on the marital bed and Amber on the floor in the doorway. It was a gruesome crime scene with both victims suffering multiple blows to their heads causing blood spatter and brain matter to be clearly visible meters from their bodies. To attack with such force, repeating blow after blow, has all the hallmarks of an enraged killer.

The Lundy family

The Lundy family

Mark Lundy owned his own business selling kitchen sinks, a business which was in deep financial trouble reported 1 News Now at the time of Lundy’s second murder trial. A decision to purchase land for a vineyard in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand added further strain along with deadlines to meet to satisfy his investors. It was this situation, the stress it placed on Mark Lundy and the knowledge of a very recent increase to the life insurance policy on his wife which prosecutors say motivated Lundy to commit murder. The final deadline for Mark Lundy to pay what he owed was 30 August 2000, the same day his wife and daughter were found dead.

The key piece of evidence against Mark Lundy were two small spots of matter found on his polo shirt which was inside a gym bag in the boot of his car when he returned to Palmerston North the morning his family’s bodies were found. In his 2015 trial, after undergoing advanced testing scientists confirmed these spots were human blood and most likely brain or spinal cord matter that was matched to Christine Lundy through DNA testing. At the point the jury heard this evidence, said writer Peter Hawes to Noted New Zealand who sat through both trials, they turned to look at Mark Lundy. “…Suddenly he grew fangs and horns,” he said.

“No man should have his wife’s brain on his shirt.”

There are, however, many questions about this case which do raise some doubt on Mark Lundy being the killer as the Factual Trust (“For Amber & Christine – Truth Uncovered About Lundys”) highlights. Lundy was intercepted by police before he reached his home on the morning after the murder, where his car was seized for forensic testing, along with his personal items such as his watch, glasses, and wedding ring.

The Lundy house where Christine and Amber were murdered.

The Lundy house where Christine and Amber were murdered.

No forensic evidence was found either inside the messy unclean car or on Lundy’s personal items. The matter found on his polo shirt was tested using a relatively unsupported method within forensic science that had not been used on fabric before and one which may not, therefore, be as reliable as a forensic evidence result.

“Why were no traces of blood or tissue found on Mark, his clothing, jewellery, glasses, in his car, or at the motel where he stayed that night, when the murder scene had large amounts of blood on walls, floor and ceiling?”

During his first trial in 2002, it was suggested he had managed the 3-hour round trip back to his home to commit the murders within a very tight time-frame, one that unless he was driving at break-neck speed, would be impossible to complete.  At his second trial in 2015, the timeline of these murders was shifted to suggest Christine and Amber Lundy were actually murdered in the early hours of 30 August 2000, allowing Mark Lundy to drive through the night to carry out the murders and return to his hotel before the morning. This is a more plausible theory, although Lundy’s defense team rebutted the change, claiming this new timeline and journey could not have been carried out as Lundy did not have enough fuel in his car.

Mark Lundy is currently engaged in a further appeal against his convictions for the murder of his wife and daughter. His appeal focuses on the issue of the spots found on his polo shirt which experts testified were brain matter from his wife. A decision from the Court of Appeal is yet to come in. Whether Mark Lundy will remain in prison, be freed or be tried for the third time is yet to be seen.  Mark Lundy has written a series of letters from prison protesting his innocence. “As a believer of the truth, I will always fight,” he writes on his convictions. “Any innocent man must.”