Why was the laptop computer not examined by Police?
Mark and Christine Lundy operated a business called Marchris Enterprises from their home at 30 Karamea Crescent in Palmerston North. An office was set up in a bedroom in the house for this purpose.
They had two computers, a desktop computer and a laptop computer. The desktop computer was mainly used by Christine, who maintained the company accounts, used email and liked to play the occasional card games. The laptop was used mainly by Mark on his business trips to prepare quotes and update financial spreadsheets, but Christine also used it to do her brother's accounts. Both computers were in the office at the time of the murders.
The desktop computer was seized by the Police during the murder enquiry and the hard disk forensically copied then examined by the e-crime laboratory. Information from the examination of this desktop computer was used in evidence at the trial.
However, the laptop computer was in its carry bag on a chair in the same room as the desktop computer at the time of the murders, yet this laptop was never forensically copied or examined by any Police officers nor the e-crime laboratory. This has been confirmed by the officer in charge of the case, Detective Sergeant Ross Grantham in an email dated 15/8/2003.
" I got hold of Maarten ( Kleintjes ) just now and specifically asked him about the laptop computer that was in the Karamea Crescent scene.
As previously discussed Maarten did not clone the laptop computer.
I can now confirm he did not open the laptop computer, open the system up or access any of the files on the system.
I can also confirm that no Police Officer involved in the Op. Winter Enquiry accessed that system either.
I appreciate from your perspective this is of no help, but as I said to you, at the time we were conducting the scene examination and had the PC cloned we did not suspect Mark Lundy as the offender, he was being eliminated from the enquiry."
In his statement on 30th August 2000 ( the day the bodies were discovered ) Mark Lundy advised the Police that the laptop existed and that he had left it at home for Christine to use to complete her brother's GST return and transfer the information on to the desktop computer.
In his statements on 30th and 31st August 2000, Christine's brother advised Police that Christine was preparing his GST return for the June/July 2000 period.
On 8th September, the laptop was released back to the Lundy family without being examined forensically by the Police. The desktop computer was retained by the Police as evidence. To date no reason has been given for this difference action by the Police, other than the fact that Mark was not initially a suspect.
Had the laptop been examined, it may well have assisted in pin-pointing the time of death. Subsequent use has overwritten critical information on the usage of this laptop computer around the time of the murders. The hard disk has been upgraded and the laptop is no longer operational.
The original hard disk has subsequently been forensically examined, but the small amount of information found cannot be validated as yet because the the internal clock was not checked for accuracy by the Police, and Christine's brother has declined to provided the GST information to correlate with information on the disk.
It is quite possible that Christine used this laptop on the evening of 29th August 2000 after the time that she was allegedly murdered according to the Police theory, and that this evidence has been lost.