Rodney Hide: Heads should roll for this travesty
By Rodney Hide 5:30 AM Sunday Oct 20, 2013
A key disclosure in the prosecution of Mark Lundy was omitted. Photo / Mark Mitchell,
Justice demands that a couple of heads be rolled down Molesworth St. That that hasn't happened highlights that our justice system lacks its most crucial ingredient: justice.
The prosecution, on our behalf, used suspect evidence to convict Mark Lundy. The police knew it was suspect but used it anyway. And worse, they kept it hidden that their own expert had questioned their evidence's validity. Keeping that advice hidden was unlawful and cut across Lundy's right to a fair trial, and just process.
It was despicable and cowardly. The Court of Appeal described the suspect evidence as the "most cogent piece of evidence" in the Crown's case against Lundy.
It's very hard for a defendant to explain his murdered wife's brain tissue on his shirt. The brain tissue was damning.
But the so-called brain tissue was left on Lundy's shirt for 58 days. It was then discovered and fixed to a slide. The prosecution expert testified that it was Mrs Lundy's brain tissue.
The defence accepted the prosecution's expert as authoritative. They conceded the shirt stain was brain tissue and set about arguing how it came to be there. It was a crucial concession. It's hard to argue that the brain tissue was planted on the shirt or somehow arrived there through contamination. Far better to argue that the tissue wasn't brain tissue at all and that there's nothing odd about having your own wife's DNA on your shirt.
What the defence didn't know was that the police had consulted a neuropathologist who advised that the tissue material was too degenerated to be identified and that the evidence was not sufficient to prove that Lundy was the killer. They didn't know that because the prosecution kept that advice hidden. By law, and for justice, that advice should have been disclosed.
It would have proved a crucial disclosure. There can be little doubt that the defence would then have argued that the tissue was not brain tissue and they may well have succeeded. But that crucial advice was not disclosed until this year, Lundy's 13th in jail.
And now the Privy Council has quashed Lundy's conviction and ordered a retrial.
A couple of high-ups should swing for this travesty of justice. But they won't. Our justice system lacks the necessary transparency and accountability.
The hard questions don't get asked. And those responsible don't get held to account.
Lundy is fortunate to have had access to the Privy Council. That's now denied to New Zealanders.
We now have a closed and perfectly hermetically sealed justice system.
By Rodney Hide