"Oh," said the lady from Epsom, "you missed a good week last week!" We ran into each other on Sunday night at Auckland domestic airport. We were both headed for Wellington, to attend the Mark Lundy murder trial at the High Court. I go there because it's my livelihood; she commutes because she can't bear to miss a second. She sits in the public gallery, attentive and absorbed. "I just find the whole thing," she said, "so deeply moving."
I skipped the trial last week. But every day I longed to be in the courtroom, with its bright overhead lights and its slow accumulation of bits and pieces of possibly incriminating evidence. I could only read about the witnesses - Rowena the cleaner, Mr Tupai the Samoan guy. The thing I most wished I'd seen from last week's proceedings was the police video taken at the crime scene. I wanted to look inside the house at 30 Karamea Cres, Palmerston North, where Christine Lundy and her daughter Amber were slaughtered on the night of August 30, 2000.
It felt strange to be away from court; strange, too, to return yesterday, to look around the familiar faces. There was Mark Lundy, sitting with his mouth slightly open like a door left ajar. There was Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk, who has shed the deep suntan that made him look Greek, but now has a sunburn that makes him look like he's recently survived a voyage at sea on a raft.
And in the witness stand was Bjorn Sutherland, the ESR scientist who worked on the investigation in 2000. It was his fourth day in court. Bjorn again. Under cross-examination from defence counsel David Hislop QC, he talked about blood spatter and blood smears, and said things like, "The location of smears of blood are different to locations of spatter".
He also talked a lot about paint fragments found in Christine Lundy's hair. The Crown says that the paint came from one of Lundy's tools when he used it to murder his wife. The defence argues there could be an innocent explanation.
Hislop: "Can you discount the possibility she may have had paint fragments in her hair beforehand?" Sutherland said he couldn't, but that the presence of fragments would suggest a "vigorous activity".
The two discussed the finer points of the issue for an hour or so. It was about as exciting as watching paint fragments dry, but things changed with the next witness. The defence called British blood-spatter expert Gillian Leak. It was rather startling to hear that one of the cases she'd worked on was the Yorkshire Ripper.
And then the police video taken at 30 Karamea Cres was shown to the court. Hislop wanted Leak to comment on it. I leaned forward.
It was a silent movie and that made it immediately frightening. There was the house, and there was a policeman standing outside on the pavement. There was a daisy bush and a set of swings and a police tape that shook in the wind. The green paintwork on the windowsills was chipped and peeling. It matched the colour of the letterbox.
The camera went up the driveway and around the back, and examined the window that the police claim Lundy jimmied open to make it look like a burglary. There was an oil drum and a green corrugated iron fence and a ladder with six rungs, and then the camera moved into the house.
The film lasted about six minutes. It was badly lit and badly edited, and the camera shook, and all that just made it terrifying. It went up the hallway. There was Amber. She lay on the carpet. She wore a nightgown. Her legs were bare. Her small hand was curled beside her hair.
There was Christine. Everything was shadows and blood, a dark room, a missing person - the murderer. Who did that? Who made that happen, who created that bleak scene so badly filmed, so horrifying? "If you think about it," said Leak, "the assailant is part of the scene."
She meant his body interrupted the various flights and parabolas of the blood, and indicated where he was standing, and the length of his weapon. She said Christine would have been lying on the left side of the bed when the first blow hit her. She tried to defend herself, and moved to the right, where she was killed.
"Amber," said Leak, "wasn't in bed with her mum." That was a heartbreaking thing to hear: "Her mum." Amber was 7 years old.
"She was upright long enough after the first blow for the blood to run down her shoulder ... The final blows came when she was face down on the floor."
The police video moved around Christine's bedroom. There was her body and there was the floral bedspread and there were the curtains. On the floor - perhaps it had been dropped, in fright - was a cloth doll. It had a smile on its face.