Exactly half of the list of 144 witnesses called by the prosecution in the murder trial of Mark Lundy - accused of killing his wife Christine and daughter Amber with some kind of axe on the night of August 29, 2000, in the family home at Palmerston North - have now given evidence in the Wellington High Court.
Things are moving at great pace and with the steady drip of evidence. Week two of the trial began yesterday and the talk was almost entirely devoted to money.
The Crown doesn't have to prove motive. There's no requirement in a murder trial. But it doesn't hurt to have a good crack and prosecutor Philip Morgan lived up to the promise he made in his opening address last Monday: that the Crown would argue Lundy was under intolerable financial pressure and regarded Christine's life insurance as the answer to his woes.
And so Monday was the day of the bean counter. Lundy's two accountants gave evidence, and were asked about his ambitious wine venture. They described a flop. They talked of investors who never materialised, bridging finances that weren't approved and outstanding debts that had to be written off. Lundy made an unconditional offer ("We tried to warn him") of $2 million for two parcels of land in the Hawkes Bay, to establish a vineyard.
Lundy's stake: around about precisely zero. He registered a prospectus to raise money. He reckoned an investor in Britain would go in for 500,000. Bean counter: "Nothing came of it."
Actually, something sort of came of it: the mystery investor appeared in court, with name suppression, and said how shocked she was to receive an email from Lundy setting out the terms of her generous investment.
Morgan: "Did you have that sort of money?"
"Did you know anyone with that sort of money?"
"No. And I still don't."
She was a family friend of someone who knew Lundy. The friend sent her the prospectus. She was thinking of maybe making an investment of 2000. She was so stunned by Lundy's email, which breezily assumed she was good for half a million pounds, that she switched off the computer in horror.
"I couldn't even begin to respond to the email," she said. "It was so far out of my reality."
What was Lundy's reality? Mike Porter, who sold Lundy the land, shared his knowledge of Lundy's apparently loaded investor. He'd told Lundy on August 28, 2000, that he had two days to make good his $2 million offer, or the deal was off. "He said he needed more time. He had someone coming with the money. He said it was an English person. He was fairly vague ... "
One parcel of land was owned by Chris Morrison, from Havelock North, who advertised he was a landowner from Havelock North through his excellent tan, his open-necked white shirt, and his urban cowboy boots. He told the court that the land was worth $700,000, and he asked Lundy for a 10 per cent deposit. "He preferred zero." They agreed on $10,000.
Lundy was supposed to pay the balance in February 2000. He missed that deadline and the one after that.
Morrison: "I thought I'd better call him myself rather than hear second-hand his various excuses. I wanted to get to the bottom of it. He said there was no problem, apart from the excess of investors - he had such a surplus of them that he'd have to scale them back ... "
He gave Lundy a final settlement date of August 30. The bodies of Christine and Amber were found that morning.
Lundy's main business was selling sinks. He was good at that - the sink wholesaler, Robert McLachlan of Hamilton, said he emailed Lundy not long before the murders, congrat-ulating him on his figures - but didn't seem to be able to get anywhere with his debts. "The debt never seemed to go below $100,000," said McLachlan.
McLachlan spoke at length in court. Much of what he said concerned Lundy's debts. But his testimony also included revelations of vice and greed that were at once evil, loathsome and completely irrelevant to Lundy's murder charges.
It concerned a man who wanted a good deal on a sink. McLachlan is a gentle, frail, man who mentioned that he had suffered four strokes and sometimes forgot small details. But his memory was vivid about a call he received when he drove to Palmerston North shortly after Christine and Amber were killed.
The sinks came from Holland and South Korea. They were very good sinks, not top of the line, but made from stainless steel, solid, popular.
McLachlan said one of Lundy's customers phoned and asked if the price of a sink would still stand in light of the deaths, or if he could now get a better deal. "That's the level of ... how do I put it ... That was human nature at its worst."
God almighty. The want of a sink is the root of all evil. Who was that guy? Are you out there, you sonofabitch?