Police cordon Helen Weggery’s first hint of the fate of her daughter Christine and granddaughter Amber

She turned into Karamea Crescent. Her daughter Christine lived at number 30, and Helen visited every Wednesday for lunch. Christine would probably just throw something together. She left the cooking to Mark.

Lunch was only an excuse to visit. Actually, they saw each other most days. Helen often popped in for a chat. It was easier for her to get in the car and drive over, because Christine was kept busy managing the accounts for the kitchen-sink business she and Mark ran from their house.

Christine also had to prepare GST accounts that week for Glenn. Her younger brother had been calling to find out when she'd finish.

Mark was away on business. He'd left on Tuesday morning. Before he drove to Wellington, Mark went with Christine to Lighting Direct in downtown Palmerston North and bought a lampshade for the spare bedroom he'd been painting. Then he kissed her goodbye, and got into his blue Ford Fairmont.

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He made it to Wellington that afternoon and booked a room at the Foreshore Motel on the waterfront in Petone. He'd stayed there quite a few times, and often chatted with the owner.

Everyone in the kitchen trade in the lower North Island knew Mark. He was fat and cheerful. He usually just called into their showrooms and factories without phoning ahead. But he didn't do the hard sell. He was professional, and made good on his promises.

He and Christine had a lot of friends. They often hosted dinners, soirees, get-togethers. In the weekend just gone, Mark lit the barbecue on Saturday night even though it was winter, and they played cards with the Durhams, who stayed until after midnight.

Some friends worried about their scheme to invest in a Hawkes Bay vineyard. The interest was about $600 a day, according to Karen Keenan.

But they were a close, affectionate couple. Mark's father, Bill, said, "Mark and Christine live for each other." And then there was Amber, 7 years old, their only child, who they loved more than life itself. She was a good girl. Helen would say "she's the easiest child to babysit". Amber would tell her, "It's bedtime, Nana." She'd read in bed, and sometimes listen to music as she drifted off to sleep. The hallway light was kept on.

Christine picked her up from Roslyn Primary School on Tuesday afternoon, and took her to her dance class run by Dean McKerras at Rocket Studios. A show was coming up, and the girls had costume fitting.

Dean had had Amber as a student since she was 3.

Christine always waited in the same seat at every session. Amber was in her favourite dance outfit - a pink and orange leotard, with blue tights.

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The class finished about 4.30pm. Dean was one of the last people to ever see them alive. Their friends were all about to form sentences that ended, "and that was the last time I saw them".

Caroline Durham said that in the High Court at Wellington this week, and a lawyer found it necessary to add, "Alive?"

Caroline said, "The last time I saw them, full stop."

The last person to see them alive in daylight was probably Jonathan Ferguson-Pye, who served them at the McDonald's drive-through on Rangitikei St at 5.38pm on Tuesday.

A lawyer produced the receipt, and said, "What does '9 X NUG' mean?"

Ferguson-Pye said, "It's a while since I worked there but I think it's nine nuggets."

"What about, '1 X CHICK'?"

This time the witness didn't hesitate. He said, "One chicken burger."

The meal cost $18.60. Mark ordered a prostitute to visit him that night in his room at the Foreshore Motel, and she cost $140.

She arrived not long before midnight. He wore a pair of green trackpants. He had rum on his breath - there was a bottle in the room, three-quarters empty - but he didn't appear drunk. She thought he was very pleasant. They made conversation.

He said, "I sell kitchen sinks."

She said, "Really."

He said, "I fax the orders to my wife, and she does all the paperwork." She said, "Uh-huh."

She left about 12.40am. A driver from the Quarry Inn agency came to pick her up.

In the morning, Helen turned into Karamea Crescent to have lunch with Christine, but was stopped by two police officers. Number 30 was taped off. She said, "That's my daughter's house. What's happened?"

They wouldn't give her a straight answer, but Helen said, "You may as well tell me."

One of the officers said, "There's a body in the house."

Helen said, "What about Amber?"

The officer said, "She's dead, too."

Lundy's defence counsel, David Hislop, QC. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lundy's defence counsel, David Hislop, QC. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Everything from this account of suburbia and death - well, apart from guessing the kind of responses the escort gave that night at the Foreshore Motel - is taken from the opening week of Mark Lundy's trial for the murder of his wife Christine and daughter Amber, killed on the night of August 29, 2000.

First week, second trial: he was found guilty in 2002, but the conviction was thrown out by the Privy Council in 2013. Lundy's retrial, in the High Court at Wellington, is set down for a further seven or eight weeks.

Progress has been fast. The prosecution has already called more than 40 witnesses, including statements given by people who have died since the murders, such as Helen Weggery, Christine's mother.

A story is taking shape, slowly. The order of witnesses, and the evidence they give, forms a narrative.

"Things will unfold," Justice Simon France told the jury on Monday, when everyone first assembled in the ground-floor courtroom, with its colour scheme of dark chocolate and creamy vanilla wood panelling. The walls are yet to close in. These are early days. Everyone is getting to know each other.

There are the media, who sit in the same places every day. One reporter feels the heat of these beautiful summer days, and mops her face. It's easy to identify the girls from TV news shows. They wear jackets in green and purple. Dizzying to imagine the riot of primary colours in the wardrobes of TVNZ and TV3.

There are the two rows of lawyers. It took four days before Crown co-counsel Ben Vanderkolk said a peep. He broke his silence when he was given the task of questioning parking officers. For the defence, Julie-Ann Kincaid brings the pleasing vowels of Belfast into the room whenever she speaks. It even enlivens the questioning of parking officers.

There are the jury. "You are anonymous," said the judge. They elected their forewoman on Thursday. She smokes with her left hand, and holds the cigarette out at arm's length. There is a man with a limp, and a man who wears very talkative T-shirts.

And there is Mark Lundy. Mark Lundy sits in the dock at the back of the courtroom. He wears a dark suit. It's kind of slimming. Crown prosecutor Philip Morgan outlined the case against him on Monday. He, too, began his account with 30 Karamea Crescent. "It was," he said, "a modest little home in a blue-collar suburb."

It was where Christine and Amber were killed with something like an axe. Morgan: "Both would have died immediately."

Immediately, after Christine raised her hands above her head and face, and received defensive wounds; immediately, after Amber tried to run away. Christine was killed in bed. Amber was killed in the doorway.

Morgan has not wished to dwell on the deaths and several times assured witnesses to relax, that he would not be showing them crime-scene photographs. The worst it got was when he provided a photo of the hallway of 30 Karamea Crescent. It was taken after the bodies were removed. It showed the doorway to Christine's bedroom. There was a "dark patch".

The man who stands accused of it has said two words, twice: "Not guilty."

Lundy was given a lovely, warm smile by a witness on Thursday. Bronwyn Neal had known the Lundys for a long time. She said she worked as a graphic designer, and Lundy paid her $3500 to design brochures for his wine venture. She also designed an advertisement he wanted to place in a police magazine. They talked about it on the phone on the morning of the day that the bodies of Christine and Amber were discovered. "He said that his target audience included retired policemen ... "

Brent Potter, who also gave evidence, said he invited Lundy for morning tea in his Lower Hutt joinery business on the day the bodies were found. When he left the courtroom, the two men gave each other the familiar New Zealand male greeting of raising their eyebrows at each other.

"I bought a sink tap off of him that day," he remembered. "It was an impulse buy." He said Lundy and his staff sat down for smoko. "He was cheerful, the same as ever."

Smiling, laughing; the smoko room, the buying of a tap; a chat about placing an advertisement in the police gazette ... All while Christine and Amber lay dead in their home, blood all over the walls - "brains" as one witness said - with the ranchslider open and the curtains closed and the phone ringing, and Helen Weggery, Christine's mother, about to drive over for lunch.