Greg Lynn trial: Carol Clay ‘did not seem bothered’ her partner Russell Hill was married, court told

<span>Russell Hill and Carol Clay were in a relationship when they were allegedly killed in the Wonnangatta Valley, Victoria’s supreme court has heard. Greg Lynn has pleaded not guilty to murdering the pair.</span><span>Photograph: Victoria police</span>
Russell Hill and Carol Clay were in a relationship when they were allegedly killed in the Wonnangatta Valley, Victoria’s supreme court has heard. Greg Lynn has pleaded not guilty to murdering the pair.Photograph: Victoria police

Carol Clay “did not seem bothered” her partner, Russell Hill, remained married and “liked the situation”, a Victorian supreme court trial has heard.

Former airline pilot Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Hill and Clay in the state’s alpine region in March 2020.

On Wednesday, the court heard from Louise Heib and Amanda Darmody, who met Clay through the Country Women’s Association, of which Clay was a former state president.

Their statements to police were read into evidence, meaning they did not appear in court as witnesses.

In her statement, Heib said Clay loved the “country girl” side of going camping.

In the statement, she said her friendship with Clay bloomed after they had a “very fun” introduction to one another.

She said she spoke frequently about her relationship with Hill, and that she did not seem bothered that Hill remained married. Heib said she believed Hill and Clay’s children both knew about the affair.

“I think Carol liked the situation, I don’t think that worried her, she was quite independent,” Heib said in the statement.

Clay would often send her photos of the hikes she had done with Hill, Heib said. Hill had a very well set up vehicle for camping, with an allocated space for Clay’s things.

Related: Greg Lynn trial: Russell Hill given ultimatum to tell wife of Carol Clay affair years before their deaths, court told

She often did the cooking for the trip, Heib said.

“She loved the country girl side of things, she was just free, and didn’t need to put her lippy or anything else on,” she said in her statement.

The court also heard on Wednesday from police who were involved in the initial investigation into the couple’s disappearance.

This included officers who searched their homes, seizing items for evidence and later DNA analysis, and finding other evidence including a label for Viagra in Hill’s name that was found ripped into pieces in Clay’s bathroom bin.

Det Leading Sen Con Abbey Justin, who had been with the missing persons squad at the time of the disappearance and was the first informant in the case, said police received a very large public response from media appearances it conducted about the campers.

She also said that she attended Lynn’s Caroline Springs home in July 2020 and noticed that he had painted his Nissan Patrol from a blue-grey colour to a light brown.

Lynn’s vehicle had been captured on automatic numberplate recognition cameras near Mount Hotham in the hours after the alleged murders. The cameras were set up to capture cars who had not paid ski resort fees in Mount Hotham.

Dermot Dann KC, for Lynn, said his client told police he painted the vehicle the colour “sandbank”, or a light brown, after his camping trip to the Wonnangatta Valley.

John Kelleher, a Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre scientist, told the court he examined items that were gathered from the burned remains of Hill and Clay’s campsite.

Several of the items could not be properly identified due to the intense heat generated when they were burnt.

Under questioning from Dann, Kelleher agreed that the condition of the items he found was consistent with an account of the fire provided to police by Lynn: that Lynn gathered numerous items from around the tent, placed them inside, and then set it alight.

The court has previously heard Lynn also told police the deaths were the result of a tragic accident, and then he acted in a “callous” manner to conceal them.

The trial is in its second week and is expected to run for four to six weeks. The hearing continues.