Legal cross-examination an extraordinary caper of alternating murmurs, roars and accusations

She is forever seven years old, always that lovely, silly age - Amber Lundy never grew up, only ever knew life as a child, someone happy, someone adored.

"Amber," a witness said in the Wellington High Court on Tuesday afternoon, when asked about her parents, Mark and Christine Lundy, "was the light of their life".

She was killed, horribly, at least swiftly, on the night of August 29, 2000. Her body was discovered in the doorway of her parents' bedroom. She got out of her own bed because she heard her mother being killed. She can't have seen very much. It was dark. But she likely saw who was standing by the side of Christine Lundy's bed. A monster, covered in blood, a weapon in his hands. She turned. He followed.

Did she know him? Yes, said the Crown. It was her father, Mark Lundy, who was formally accused of double-murder on Monday morning, the opening day of his trial. Yes, agreed the defence, Amber knew him. They were family. It was her Uncle Glenn.

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Glenn Weggery, 45, Christine's younger brother, appeared yesterday as the first witness called by the prosecution, and seldom can a Crown case have begun so sensationally. His cross-examination was astonishing to watch.

Defence lawyer David Hislop would drop his voice to a murmur, then suddenly raise it, roaring at Weggery as he accused him of double murder - almost by the by, he also implied an improper relationship.

Hislop: "Were you ever alone with Amber?"

Weggery: "No."

Hislop: "Did you ever babysit her?"

Weggery: "No."

Mark Lundy, meanwhile, was reduced to the role of a bystander, almost a forgotten presence as he sat in the dock.

Hislop: "Your sister was asleep when you struck her."

Weggery: "No, I did not, and I'm not going to sit here and be accused of it!"

But he had no other choice than to sit there and be accused of it, over and over. Justice Simon France instructed Weggery, "If Mr Hislop suggests you have done something unlawful, feel free to ask me if you need to answer it. You are entitled not to give an answer."

Weggery took him up on it.

Hislop: "I suggest you were the one who hit Amber on the head."

Weggery: "I don't want to answer that."

The rest of the time, he straight-out denied Hislop's accusations, with rage and scorn, nailing shut the end of his sentences with an angry, over-pronounced consonant: "No, I did not ... No, that didn't happen ... I know nothing about that." The latter denial was in reply to Hislop's revelation that two spots of blood were found at Weggery's house. The DNA of one spot had an 83% match with Christine, the other had an 88% match with Amber.

Hislop questioned his alibi for the night of the murders, and his behaviour the next morning when he called 111. Weggery's account is that he called around to the house and discovered the bodies. He also questioned a fresh scratch on his nose, and requested that the jury see a police photograph taken of Weggery. It was magnified 200% and put on a flatscreen in the courtroom. Weggery's large, implacable face stared out, and the scratch looked very red, very livid.

Hislop: "Are you sure Christine wasn't fending you off?"

Weggery: "I'm positive."

On and on it went, and throughout, Hislop's manner suggested he was merely passing the time of day. He kept his roaring to a minimum. After accusing the Crown's first witness of double murder, you wondered what he was going to do for an encore, but he merely suggested to the next witnesses - two St John's ambulance officers - that perhaps they accidentally tampered with the crime scene, galumphing here and there, and transferring the victims' blood from one place to another like a couple of fools.

His job done, Hislop handed over to co-counsel Ross Burns for the remaining cross-examination of Crown witnesses. There wasn't much to challenge. Friends of the Lundy family talked about a loving household, busy, active, normal.

The nice middle-aged woman who said Amber was the light of her parents' life was only on the witness stand for about 10 minutes. She used to live on the same street as the Lundy family. Her son was in Amber's class, and her daughter was in Pippins with Amber.

She entered the courtroom with a young woman, who sat by herself in the public gallery. It was probably her daughter. She stood up when her mother walked back through the court after giving evidence. She touched her arm, briefly, and they left together. She had long, straight hair, and wore a summery dress. She looked about 22 or 23.