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

<span>A court sketch of Greg Lynn (L), who has pleaded not guilty to murdering campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay in Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley. </span><span>Composite: AAP / Victoria Police</span>
A court sketch of Greg Lynn (L), who has pleaded not guilty to murdering campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay in Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley. Composite: AAP / Victoria Police

The jury in the trial of a former Jetstar pilot accused of murdering two elderly campers in the Victorian high country will not be able to consider an alternative charge of manslaughter, the state’s supreme court has heard.

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.

Justice Michael Croucher on Thursday began providing final instructions to the jury while summarising the evidence heard during the trial.

He told the jury that 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 crown prosecutor Daniel 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.

On Tuesday, Porceddu said the only reasonable explanation for Lynn to cover up the deaths of two elderly campers in the Victorian high country was because “he knew he had murdered them”.

Croucher also told the jury that manslaughter would not be available as an alternative charge to murder.

“You must put manslaughter out of your mind. Instead, the only charges before you are murder,” Croucher said.

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 alleged Hill was killed first by unknown means and 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.

Related: ‘He was selfish’: Greg Lynn covered up deaths because he believed he would be blamed, murder trial told

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.

Croucher said the jury had a duty to consider the two charges of murder with their heads and not their hearts, which included ignoring sympathy they may have for the elderly campers and their families, and moral judgments about their affair.

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 told the jury on Tuesday 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.”

The trial continues.