Judge’s warning in missing campers trial

Gregory Lynn has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Russell Hill and Carol Clay. Picture: Supplied
Gregory Lynn has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Russell Hill and Carol Clay. Picture: Supplied

The judge presiding over a former Jetstar captain’s double murder trial has delivered a warning to the jury after they requested to re-watch evidence from two witnesses.

Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, is facing trial after pleading not guilty to murdering Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, while on a camping trip in the remote Alpine National Park.

The six men and six women who will decide Mr Lynn’s fate have been deliberating since they were sent out by Supreme Court Justice Michael Croucher about 12.30pm on Friday.

Shortly before going home on Tuesday afternoon, the jury sent a note to the judge, requesting a recording of the evidence given to the court during the trial by Mr Lynn and ballistics expert Senior Constable Paul Griffiths.

MISSING CAMPERS
Greg Lynn has claimed the pair died accidental deaths not of his choosing. Picture: David Geraghty / NewsWire

Justice Croucher approved the footage being viewed in the jury room when the jurors returned on Wednesday morning.

He said the two recordings would total about five hours.

“I’m not sure whether you want to watch the whole thing or if there’s particular topics you’re interested in, it’s a matter for you,” he said.

He warned the jury if they were interested in viewing particular aspects of the evidence, they must consider the full evidence in their deliberations “so you’ve got the full picture”.

Justice Croucher also reminded the jury that Mr Lynn was presumed innocent and was not required to prove anything.

He reminded jurors that Crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu had breached fairness rules during his closing address regarding Mr Lynn and Mr Griffiths’ evidence by making statements he had not given them the opportunity to respond to.

“I directed you might more readily reject these arguments and accept the witnesses’ evidence,” he said.

Russell Hill and Carol Clay’s campsite was located in March 2020. Picture: Supplied/ Supreme Court of Victoria
Russell Hill and Carol Clay’s campsite was located in March 2020. Picture: Supplied/ Supreme Court of Victoria

During the trial, Mr Lynn gave evidence about his account of two accidental deaths set in motion after Mr Hill stole his shotgun and the efforts he took to hide his involvement.

Mr Griffiths, a police expert, gave evidence about the testing of Mr Lynn’s firearm that found it was in good working order and bullet trajectory testing.

Last week, Justice Croucher delivered his summing up to the jury before they retired to deliberate, telling the jury that prosecutors alleged Mr Lynn murdered Mr Hill in unknown circumstances and through unknown means in the evening of March 20, 2020, likely following an argument over Mr Hill’s drone.

COURT - GREG LYNN MISSING CAMPERS
Senior Constable Paul Griffiths demonstrated the movements needed to load and fire Mr Lynn’s shotgun. Picture: NewsWire / Diego Fedele

Mr Lynn then allegedly murdered Mrs Clay by shooting her in the head as a witness to the first slaying, he said of the prosecution’s case.

On the defence case, Justice Croucher said, Mrs Clay died due to the accidental discharge of Mr Lynn’s shotgun as the two men wrestled for control of the weapon.

According to the defence, Mr Hill then attacked Mr Lynn with a knife, falling on the blade as the two men struggled.

Justice Croucher said both parties agreed that Mr Lynn took a series of steps to hide his involvement in the deaths, including cleaning and burning the campsite, disposing of the bodies only to return eight months later to incinerate them and painting his car and trailer.

He said prosecutors were asking the jury to accept these actions could only be reasonably explained by Mr Lynn’s knowledge he had murdered the pair.

Carol Clay and Russell Hill vanished in March 2020
Carol Clay and Russell Hill vanished in March 2020
Their remains were discovered 20 months later. Picture: Supplied
Their remains were discovered 20 months later. Picture: Supplied

Defence on the other hand, Justice Croucher said, argued that all available evidence supported Mr Lynn’s account of two accidental deaths, and his actions were the result of panic and fear he would be wrongly blamed.

“Mr Dann (Mr Lynn’s barrister) submits the prosecution are asking you to fill in the gaps with speculation,” he said.

Justice Croucher told the jury their job was not to punish Mr Lynn for the “terrible and selfish” actions he had admitted to but to impartially judge if the prosecution had proven the four elements of murder for each death beyond reasonable doubt.

He said Mr Lynn was to be presumed innocent and for the jury to think two accidental deaths was improbable, was “fundamentally flawed”.

The trial continues.