Time of Death
The time of death was crucial to the Crown case in 2002. Dr James Pang told the trial jury that he estimated the time of death was between 7pm and 7.15pm on the evening of August 29, 2000. This was solely on the basis of examining the stomach contents of Christine and Amber Lundy and he noted the "distinctive" absence of the smell of gastric juices.
Dr Pang did not take the temperatures of the bodies when they were found in the house, or examine them for rigor mortis. He also did not weigh the stomach contents.
Given the time of the purchase of the meals at McDonald's at 5.38pm and the journey time home, Dr Pang said the digestion process was in the early stages, which led to his estimated time of death.
The Privy Council was given affidavits by several medical professionals, including Professor Bernard Knight, who is a leading world expert in forensic pathology, who reviewed the findings of the Crown experts. Ironically, Professor Knight was cited by Dr Pang during the 2002 trial.
Professor Knight said the use of stomach contents to estimate the time of death was "so unreliable as to be of little value" as there were a number of variables which made gastric contents almost useless to determine the timing.
He particularly questioned Dr Pang's evidence that "absence of gastric smell" was an important factor. He considered this to be "utterly without foundation and little short of ludicrous" and had never heard of this suggestion.
Nearly 15 years after Christine and Amber were found dead, the Crown abandoned the 7pm time of death and accused Lundy of killing them in the early hours of August 30, 2000 - at least six hours later than the original estimation.
Dr Pang again gave evidence and changed his position to say the only certainty was the pair died within a 14-hour period, between 7pm on August 29 - when they were in contact with someone - and when their bodies were found the following day about 9am.
Defence counsel David Hislop, QC, asked him: "When was it you changed your mind?"
Dr Pang replied: "I would think it was after reading the Privy Council judgment."
Forensic pathologist Martin Sage said television programmes and books would often have a pathologist who would easily be able to pinpoint a time of death.
"That is a complete fiction."
Frantic 300km drive
The original time of death of around 7pm led to the theory of Lundy making a 300km round trip in less than three hours to commit the murders.
Lundy was in Wellington on a fortnightly business trip to visit kitchen suppliers and checked into a Petone motel at 5pm. Phone records show he received a call from Christine at 5.30pm, telling him that Amber's Girl Guides meeting was cancelled and they would have McDonald's for dinner.
The call lasted eight minutes. To fit the time of death, the Crown's case was Lundy convinced Christine to get Amber into bed by 7pm so they could have a romantic evening together. He then drove 150km back to Palmerston North at breakneck speed, parked 500m away from his home, put on overalls and a wig, tampered with the computer, killed his wife and child, staged a break-in, ran back to the car and disposed of the evidence.
Lundy then sped back to Wellington, arriving just before 8.28pm, when he spoke to a friend on his cellphone.
Police repeatedly tried to recreate the trip but were unsuccessful.
Lundy's defence was that he stayed in Petone, read a book on the foreshore, drank alcohol and hired an escort, who visited him at 11.30pm.
The timeframe was "impossible", according to Geoff Levick, who had driven from Petone to Palmerston North more than 50 times on business trips and was convinced enough to fight to overturn Lundy's convictions in the Privy Council.
At Lundy's retrial, the Crown abandoned the trip theory. Instead, prosecutors say Lundy committed the murders after the escort left his motel room shortly before 1am on August 30, driving from Petone to Palmerston North and back before checking out of the motel around 8am. He parked his car on the road outside his motel so as not to disturb other guests, according to the Crown.
Based on the original 7pm time of death, there was only one witness who could place Lundy in Palmerston North on the night of the murders.
Margaret Dance, 60, lived 500m from the Lundys' home and was driving her car around 7.15pm when she saw a fat man in a "ridiculous" blonde wig running down the street.
Her description was quite detailed, despite no one else seeing the man disguised as a woman.
She said the person was fat, with a round face and "a lot of fat round the chin area", and wore a tracksuit, zipped up the front to mid-chest.
"The trousers were wrinkled at the ankles. I also noticed ... there was a shirt and tie ... I just saw the toes of the shoes. They definitely weren't running shoes. I thought probably leather."
Ms Dance said he seemed frightened, his "legs pumping up and down" as though he were being chased.
"As the figure got closer, I saw it was a 'he', and that he looked absolutely terrified or frightened, a 'let me get out of here quickly' expression.
"The main thing that made me look was the hair. It was quite a ridiculous look - blonde hair, it had corkscrew curls."
She also described a modern blue car with "rounded lines" parked outside her house, which the police said was Lundy's Ford Fairmont.
Ms Dance also claimed to have psychic powers, which she "deliberately shut out so I could be completely factual in what I saw and what I remembered".
She was not called to give evidence at Lundy's retrial.
The Lundy family computer was switched off at 10.52pm on August 29. If Christine had turned it off at that time, the Privy Council said this would "plainly be at odds" with the Crown case. If that was the case, then the killer could not have been Lundy, as he was with a prostitute at his Petone motel at 11.36pm.
But a police computer expert told the 2002 jury there was evidence the computer's registry file was disordered, which suggested the time on the machine was tampered with.
Maarten Kleintjes demonstrated how it was possible to tamper with the computer and manipulate the "shutdown" time on the clock in a way that was undetectable - implying the computer was shut down earlier than 10.52pm, which gave Lundy an alibi.
He also discounted the possibility that a computer virus could disorder the registry file, saying it was "far-fetched". But a computer expert hired for the Privy Council appeal said there were several ways files could become disordered, including a virus.
Forensic examiner Michael Chappell discovered the virus-checking program on the Lundy computer was out of date and infected with a virus known as a KAK worm. He traced it back to an infected email six weeks before the killings in August 2000 and when he deleted the virus, the registry files returned to their correct order. His conclusion was there was no evidence of manipulation of the time or date.
Witnesses also said the house lights were on at 11pm, but turned off in the morning.
At the retrial, Mr Kleintjes said manipulation of the computer files was only a possibility.
Accused by Lundy's defence lawyer David Hislop, QC, of changing his evidence, Mr Kleintjes said the manipulation was about the registry files on the computer and had nothing to do with the shutdown time of the computer. "It is two completely different things," he said. "I'm sorry this has confused you."