Lundy v The Queen

Court:Privy Council
Docket Number:Appeal No 0094 of 2012
Judge:Lord Kerr
Judgment Date:07 Oct 2013
Jurisdiction:UK Non-devolved
Neutral Citation:[2013] UKPC 28

[2013] UKPC 28

Privy Council


Lord Hope

Dame Sian Elias

Lord Kerr

Lord Reed

Lord Hughes

Appeal No 0094 of 2012

The Queen


David Hislop QC

Malcolm Birdling

(Instructed by Alan Taylor and Co)


Cameron Mander

Annabel Markham

Matthew Davie

(Instructed by the Crown Law Office)

From the Court of Appeal of New Zealand

Heard on 17, 18 and 19 June 2013

Lord Kerr

At about 9am on the morning of Wednesday 30 August 2000, the bodies of Christine and Amber Lundy were discovered in their home at 30 Karamea Crescent, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Christine Lundy was the wife of the appellant, Mark Lundy, and Amber was their seven year old daughter. Christine and Amber had been brutally murdered. The dreadful wounds that they had suffered were such as might have been inflicted by an axe or a hatchet but no murder weapon was ever found.


The appellant was charged with the murder of his wife and daughter and tried before Ellis J and a jury at Palmerston North High Court in 2002. He was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum term of 17 years. An appeal against his conviction was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 13 August 2002. At the same time the court allowed an appeal by the Solicitor General against sentence and the minimum term was increased to 20 years.


It appears that, after the Court of Appeal had delivered its judgment, Mark Lundy informed his legal advisers that he wished to appeal to this Board. Difficulties in funding an appeal, the lack of legal aid and problems associated with persuading counsel to act pro bono combined to prevent an application for permission to appeal being made until November 2012. Permission was sought on seven grounds. These included a challenge to the Crown's expert evidence given at the trial. That challenge was based on fresh evidence which the appellant sought to have received on the appeal.


Questions arose as to whether the Privy Council had jurisdiction to entertain the appellant's application for permission to appeal and, if so, whether it should have resort to that jurisdiction. These were dealt with as preliminary issues by the panel considering whether permission should be given.


The Privy Council's jurisdiction in respect of New Zealand criminal appeals originated in the Royal Prerogative. It was affirmed and regulated by the Judicial Committee Acts 1833 and 1844 (which apply to New Zealand by virtue of section 3 of the Imperial Laws Application Act 1988 (NZ) and section 52 of the Supreme Court Act 2003 (NZ)). Section 42 of the 2003 Act abolished the right to appeal to the Privy Council "from or in respect of any … criminal decision of a New Zealand court made after 31 December 2003…". Section 49 provided that, as from 1 January 2004, the Imperial enactments under which appeals from New Zealand courts to the Privy Council had been brought should "cease to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand". Section 52(l)(b) of that Act provided that applications to the Privy Council for leave to appeal against a decision of a New Zealand court made before 1 January 2004 "must be determined as if sections 42 and 49 had not been enacted".


With the establishment of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, transitional provisions to deal with appeals from decisions of the Court of Appeal of that country made before 1 January 2004 were required. The jurisdiction of the Board to entertain appeals from such decisions is specifically preserved by sections 52(l)(b)(i) and section 50(l)(c)(i) of the Supreme Court Act 2003 (NZ).


The proposed respondent contended that the issues raised in the application for permission to appeal would be best resolved by way of an application for the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy (RPM) or the Governor-General's power to refer convictions to the New Zealand Court of Appeal under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961 (NZ). Decisions made in that process are amenable to judicial review on procedural grounds and a dismissal of the appeal by the New Zealand Court of Appeal is justiciable by the Supreme Court of New Zealand. The appellant argued that the existence of RPM was irrelevant to the question of jurisdiction. Even if relevant, however, it was not an effective alternative to a criminal appeal. It was a remedy of last resort and was unsuited to consideration of fresh evidence issues.


The existence of the power to refer convictions to the Court of Appeal does not negate the jurisdiction of the Privy Council to entertain appeals from decisions of the New Zealand Court of Appeal made before 1 January 2004 but they are relevant to how the Board should exercise the jurisdiction preserved by the 2003 Act — see Barlow v R [2009] UKPC 30, para 9.


The respondent accepted that the Board had jurisdiction to consider fresh evidence where the decision of the intermediate court of appeal was on a ground other than the effect of the fresh evidence. In Barlow an exception to that general principle was recognised but in that case the evidence was plainly fresh in that it arose after the trial and was incontestable. In the present case, the respondent argued, the evidence was not, in any real sense, fresh. It was accepted that the overriding test in relation to the admission of evidence was whether it was in the interests of justice that it should be admitted but since no justiciable issue as to the reasons or judgment of the New Zealand Court of Appeal was raised by the application for permission to appeal, it was not in the interests of justice to give permission in this case.


An appeal to the New Zealand Supreme Court was possible by agreement of the parties. The effect of sections 50(2)(b) and 51(2)(d) of the 2003 Act is that the parties may agree, in a case involving a decision made before 1 January 2004, that any appeal should be made to the Supreme Court of New Zealand. It was not suggested by the respondent, however, that this course should be followed. On the contrary, as pointed out in para 7 above, the respondent's attitude was that an appeal was inappropriate and that the issues raised should be dealt with by an application for the exercise of RPM.


It was clear to the Board from a consideration of the issues raised in the application for permission to appeal that careful evaluation of the 'new' evidence which the appellant wished to introduce would be required. This would be necessary to decide whether the evidence should properly be admitted and, if so, what effect this might have on the question of whether a miscarriage of justice had occurred. The Board was also conscious that an application for RPM or reference to the Court of Appeal by the Governor-General would, of necessity, entail a significant delay and that an application for permission to appeal to the Board might well transpire after an unsuccessful application for RPM or the failure of an appeal following a reference to the Court of Appeal. Inevitably, an order for a retrial was a possible outcome of an appeal. A considerable period of time has already elapsed since the original trial. Taking all these factors into account, the Board concluded that permission to appeal should be granted. It should be emphasised that this is a decision which reflects the particular circumstances of the present case. It does not represent a statement of principle as to how applications for permission in cases involving appeals from decisions of the New Zealand Court of Appeal before 1 January 2004 should be dealt with.

The facts — a short outline

The bodies of Christine and Amber Lundy were found in the bedroom of the house where Mr and Mrs Lundy customarily slept. Christine Lundy was lying on her back, on her usual side of the marital bed. She was naked but her lower body was covered by bedclothes. Amber Lundy's body was found in the doorway of her parents' bedroom. She was wearing a night dress. She was lying face down on the carpet and the angle of her body suggested that she had been leaving the room when she was killed. There was no sign that they had been sexually assaulted.


Mrs Lundy wore spectacles. Indeed, she depended heavily on these to improve her vision. Her spectacles were found in a case which rested on a bedside cabinet. The television was on standby mode and the remote control for this was found on the bed next to Mrs Lundy's body.


A window in the conservatory at the rear of the house showed signs of having been forced. One of the catches had been broken. The sliding door beside the window had been left open. At Mr Lundy's trial, the Crown claimed that the signs of forced entry suggested that it had been staged. This claim will be examined later in the judgment. There was no evidence that the house had been ransacked. Indeed, the only item of property found to be missing was Mrs Lundy's jewellery box. This box has never been recovered but a bracelet was subsequently found in the appellant's car which may have come from the jewellery box. This shall be referred to in more detail later.


Mr and Mrs Lundy were engaged in the business of selling sinks and associated kitchenware. They ran this business from their home. The nature of the business was such that, on occasions, Mr Lundy had to be away from home on sales trips. He was on such a trip to Wellington on Tuesday 29 August 2000. On this occasion he stayed in a motel which he had used a number of times before, the Foreshore Motor Lodge. This motel is in Petone, which is about 8 kilometres north of Wellington. Wellington is some 145 kms south of Palmerston North.


Telephone records produced at the appellant's trial established that at 5.30pm a call from Mrs Lundy's telephone had been made to the appellant's cell phone. This call lasted eight minutes and it was established...

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