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Pilot denies murdering campers

Written by on May 13, 2024

A former Jetstar captain has pleaded not guilty to murdering two elderly campers, as a jury was told one was allegedly “shot in the head”.

Police allege Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, were murdered while camping in the remote Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region, more than four years ago.

On Monday, former airline pilot Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, appeared in the Victorian Supreme Court as a jury was selected to determine his case.

Mr Lynn sat calmly in the dock with his head down writing in a notebook as 78 prospective jurors entered the courtroom.

The father of two stood briefly to respond “not guilty” twice as he was asked how he pleaded to two murder charges.

The jury pool was given a two-page document containing the names of dozens of people allegedly connected to the case and urged they ask to be excused if they had any personal association.

Providing a brief summary of the allegations, Judge Michael Crouchers told the jury pool that it was alleged Mr Lynn shot Ms Clay and killed Mr Hill on March 20, 2020.

He told the court the Crown alleges Mr Lynn was camping at a site called Bucks Camp at the same time as Mr Hill and Ms Clay.

“It will be alleged that Mr Lynn shot Ms Clay in the head and as a result killed her, and that Mr Lynn killed Mr Hill,” Justice Croucher said.

Over an hour-long period, 12 jurors and three reserve jurors were selected by ballot to hear the evidence at trial — estimated to run for four to six weeks.

The jury is made up of seven women and eight men, representing a diverse range of occupations, ages and ethnicities.

Justice Croucher told jurors it was for them alone to determine whether Mr Lynn is guilty or not guilty of the two alleged murders.

“It’s your role to consider the evidence and decide what the facts are,” he said.

“It’s your view of the facts which matters — not mine or anyone else’s.”

Justice Croucher said if the jury cannot be satisfied that the prosecution had proven his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, they must find Mr Lynn not guilty.

But he advised they would then need to consider alternative charges of manslaughter – a key distinction being whether death was caused by an unlawful and dangerous act, rather than performed with an intention to kill or seriously injure.

“It’s a critical part of the justice system that people are presumed to be innocent unless or until proven guilty,” he said.

“It’s not for the accused person to demonstrate his innocence, it’s for the prosecution to prove their allegation.”

Jurors were sent home shortly after 1.30pm after Justice Croucher concluded his introductory remarks.

The trial will return on Tuesday as crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu details how the prosecution puts its case against Mr Lynn and what the evidence is expected to prove.

This will be followed by a response from Mr Lynn’s barrister, Dermot Dann KC, outlining what the issues are that the jury will need to decide.