Greg Lynn trial: jury retires to consider verdict in high country murders of Russell Hill and Carol Clay

<span>A court sketch of Greg Lynn. A jury has retired to consider a verdict in the double-murder trial of the former Jetstar pilot, who has pleaded not guilty to killing Russell Hill and Carol Clay in Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley.</span><span>Photograph: Paul Tyquin/AAP</span>
A court sketch of Greg Lynn. A jury has retired to consider a verdict in the double-murder trial of the former Jetstar pilot, who has pleaded not guilty to killing Russell Hill and Carol Clay in Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley.Photograph: Paul Tyquin/AAP

The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a former Jetstar pilot accused of murdering two elderly campers in the Victorian high country in 2020.

Justice Michael Croucher said on Friday the jury was expected to return to the Victorian supreme court on Monday morning at 10am to deliberate.

Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, at a remote camping site in the Wonnangatta Valley in March 2020.

Croucher concluded his final instructions to the jury, while summarising the evidence heard during the trial, which began on 14 May. The 12-person jury retired at 12.30pm on Friday.

He has previously said the jury would not be able to consider manslaughter as an alternative charge to murder.

On Friday, the judge told the jury that the prosecution, during its closing argument, raised 17 points that they had not directly put to Lynn and a ballistics expert, leading Sr Const Paul Griffiths.

He said these included the suggestion that Lynn’s removal of an awning attached to his Nissan Patrol, days after a 60 Minutes episode aired footage of his vehicle, demonstrated a lack of panic, along with the proposition that Griffith’s evidence about gunshot-trajectory testing was flawed.

Croucher said the crown prosecutor, Daniel Porceddu, had not given the two witnesses a chance to respond to the points, which amounted to a “breach of the basic rules of fairness”.

“Had Mr Porceddu asked Mr Lynn these questions or put these propositions to him, Mr Lynn may have been able to answer in a powerful and convincing way,” he said.

The judge told the jury to take into account that Lynn and Griffith were not given the opportunity by the prosecution to answer these points.

Related: Judge in Greg Lynn murder trial says jury can’t find him guilty of manslaughter as an alternative verdict

On Thursday, Croucher had also said the prosecution had breached the “basic rule of fairness” by not putting to Lynn, during cross examination, the suggestion that the former pilot covered up the campers’ deaths because he believed he had murdered them. He said Porceddu had argued it was implicit in his question.

“Because of this breach of the basic rules of fairness, you may more readily reject the prosecution’s arguments and the inferences the prosecution wants you to draw,” Croucher said.

Porceddu had previously told the jury that the only reasonable explanation for Lynn to cover up the deaths was because “he knew he had murdered them”.

The prosecution has alleged Lynn killed Clay and Hill with murderous intent, but does not know the circumstances or motive behind the alleged murders.

Prosecutors have alleged Hill was killed first, by unknown means, and that Clay was later shot in the head.

The defence has argued both deaths were the result of a tragic accident. Lynn’s lawyer, Dermot Dann KC, previously told the court his client had “made a series of terrible choices” to cover them up.

Lynn told the court last week that Clay was shot in the head while he and Hill struggled over control of the former pilot’s shotgun after a dispute. He said Hill died in a subsequent struggle, after a knife accidentally plunged into his chest.

In his closing address, Porceddu told the jury that the prosecution’s case was about the “deliberate” and “protracted series of actions taken by the accused to disguise his involvement in and the manner of their deaths”.

“The most extreme of those actions is the burning of the bodies,” he said.

Dann said the prosecution’s case was “increasingly desperate”, had broken the established rule of fairness in the court, and failed to demonstrate that evidence the former pilot gave to police was false.

Dann also said Lynn covered up the deaths because he believed he would be blamed after he incorrectly stored his guns at the campsite.

He told the jury to “put themselves in Lynn’s shoes”, and consider the context that two accidental deaths had occurred after his client had left two guns and ammunition in his car.

“He thought he was going to be blamed for the deaths and he was 100% correct,” he said.

“Of course he’s thinking about himself, of course he was selfish.”