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‘Alarming’: Camper spotted burned site

Written by on May 20, 2024

A farmer on a overnight trip with his son had detailed the “alarming” moment they came across the burnt out campsite of a missing couple.

Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, returned before the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday for the start of the second week of his trial.

The former Jetstar pilot has pleaded not guilty to murdering Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, while camping in the Wonnangatta Valley.

Mr Hill and Ms Clay disappeared on a camping trip in the Wonnangatta Valley, with Mr Hill’s Toyota LandCruiser and charred campsite located by police two days after they were reported missing on March 26, 2020.

Called to give evidence on Monday, farmer Nicholas Linden said he discovered the burnt remains of a campsite on March 25, 2020, describing it as “out of the ordinary”.

We came across the LandCruiser and, for all intents and purposes, it looked like a brand new LandCruiser,” he said.

“There was a burnt out camp site probably not 2m from the vehicle.

“I walked up to the fire to make sure there wasn’t anyone in it … it looked as if a spark from the fire had set fire to the tent”.

Mr Linden told the jury he left the valley early the following day, saying the sight was “probably a little alarming for a young kid”, reporting the find to police the same day.

Prosecutors allege Mr Lynn killed the pair in the evening of March 20, likely after a dispute with Mr Hill, while his defence argued the couple’s deaths were a tragic accident.

It’s alleged Mr Hill was killed first by unknown means, and Ms Clay was shot in the head soon after as a witness to the first slaying.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu told the jury the crown would argue Mr Lynn’s conduct after the deaths, including setting fire to the campsite and disposing of the bodies, was an “implied admission” of guilt.

But Mr Lynn, through his barrister Dermot Dann KC, has asked the jury to accept his account of the deaths, saying Ms Clay was accidentally shot in the head first as the two men fought over a gun.

On his account Mr Hill then came at him with a knife screaming; “she’s dead”, and was killed when he fell on the knife.

“This is a case of two accidental, tragic deaths. Tragic accidental deaths in circumstances which were not of Mr Lynn’s making, and not of his choosing,” Mr Dann told the jury last week.

He said Mr Lynn did not dispute the prosecution’s account of what he did after the deaths, but argued he made a “series of terrible choices” fearing he would be wrongly blamed.

The trial, before Justice Michael Croucher, continues.