Eye witness reliability - Lundy Truth

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Eye witness reliability

Case Facts

How reliable is the eye witness testimony?

The questionable reliability of eye witness testimony has long been debated and law enforcement authorities have put in place many procedures to minimise errors. However there are many reports of eyewitness mistakes, even under controlled conditions. A search on Google using the terms "eye witness testimony reliability" provides interesting reading on the subject.

The key eye witness in the Lundy murder case gave detailed evidence regarding a car and a runner that she saw at approximately 7:15 pm on Tuesday 29th August 2000.

The circumstances were that it was a cold, dark winter's night ( this is why the Police named the enquiry "Operation Winter " ). The witness backed out of her driveway in Hillcrest Drive drove a short distance ( 3 houses ) then turned left into Rhodes Drive. The lamp post is 4 houses from the corner and another two houses further on there are the shops on the other side of Rhodes Drive. Just past the four shops is the intersection with Karamea Crescent.

The eye witness was simply driving to her choir practice, and would have been gathering speed at the point when she saw things. At the time, she may have been travelling at 30 - 40 kph. She then had to turn right into Karamea Crescent with cars coming the other way.

We now have video footage of a reconstruction of the drive, taken exactly one year later by a private investigator and a professional photographer.

In her statement on 6th September 2000 ( Enquiry document 60131 ), one week after the murders, the eye witness stated that she saw the following.

A dark coloured, modern, expensive looking car with a rounded shape rather than square.

A large fat male with a roundish face, fair curly hair with corkscrew curls possibly slipping down like a wig. He had an agonised look on his face and was wearing a two toned tracksuit over a shirt and tie.
3 people sitting in the fish and chip shop with their backs to the window on the opposite side of the road to the runner.

A male standing in the fish and chip shop with a shaven head and jacket open

A Maori person with hair to the middle of their back and head down near the fish and chip shop.

One or two cars coming the other way with headlights on.

We are concerned that such detail was apparently observed on a dark night whilst driving, and the car in front indicating an imminent right hand turn. We are also concerned that the eye witness identified Mark Lundy as the person running after seeing media reports, and not from a photo montage or line up.

eye witnesses statement is reproduced here, but with her name and the Police officer's name removed for legal reasons.

Her next door neighbour on 9th September 2000 gave a different description of a car outside the eye witness's house ( Enquiry document 70499 )

Several people went to the dairy and fish and chip shop at around the time that the eye witness saw the runner. We would like to hear from anybody that went to the shops on Rhodes drive between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm on Tuesday 29th August 2000.

If you have information, PLEASE CONTACT US NOW

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