Patrice Dougan

Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Lundy retrial a certainty, says minister

Mark Lundy. Photo / Jessica Williamson
Mark Lundy. Photo / Jessica Williamson

Mark Lundy is set to have the quashing of his murder convictions tested at a retrial after the Justice Minister gave the strongest indication yet that the case will go back to court.

Judith Collins said a retrial for Mr Lundy, who was released on bail on Friday after 12 years in jail for the murder of his wife and daughter, will "no doubt go ahead".

The case would be heard in the High Court, but it is up to the Crown to decide if it will try the case again, after the Privy Council unanimously voted to quash Mr Lundy's convictions and ruled he should stand trial for a second time.

Ms Collins told TV One's Q+A programme the case would go to trial.

"He's been granted a retrial, and that will no doubt go ahead," she said.

However, she refused to be drawn into more detail about the case, specifically in relation to the reliability of evidence used at Lundy's first trial in 2002.

"I can't really comment on individual cases, particularly a matter which is now before the courts again, so it's difficult to do that," she told TVNZ political editor Corin Dann.

"But that's a matter which will no doubt be canvassed during the retrial."

Earlier this week the Privy Council overturned Mr Lundy's convictions for the murder of his wife Christine and daughter Amber, 7, in Palmerston North in 2000.

The Law Lords unanimously voted in favour of the appeal, and said the case should be tried again amid concerns about the reliability of scientific evidence and police disclosure in the case.

Ms Collins was adamant the justice system "is working" following criticism over high-profile cases, such as Lundy's and David Bain's which have poured doubt over police methods and reliability of evidence.

"The public shouldn't have any loss of confidence,'' she said.

However, she conceded that "sometimes police will get things wrong", but added: "The vast majority of the time, they don't.

"We have 85,000 criminal convictions a year in this country. Of those, only 1 per cent are appealed, and of that 1 per cent that are appealed, only 10 per cent are successfully appealed. So that's about 99.9 per cent of all criminal convictions every year are upheld."

Ms Collins continued: "[H]alf of all people convicted of murder in this country will appeal. And I don't believe for a moment that half of all the people convicted of murder are not guilty, but half of them will appeal."

She denied prisoners face difficulty appealing their convictions, and said there was no need for a change in the current system to one more like the UK.

"[T]he fact is that when you have such a tiny minority of people appealing under the current system, that tells me that a lot of people accept their convictions," Ms Collins said.

- APNZ

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