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Missing campers had divorce pact, friend tells court

Carol Clay and Russell Hill made a pact to divorce their partners but he backed out, a friend said.

Carol Clay and Russell Hill made a pact to divorce their partners but he backed out, a friend said. Photo: AAP

Russell Hill and Carol Clay made a pact to divorce their respective partners to be together but he backed out at the last minute, one of his friends has told a jury.

Clay, 73, and Hill, 74, were camping together when they disappeared from Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley in March 2020.

Greg Lynn is accused of killing the couple at Bucks Camp and then dumping their remains at bushland on the Union Spur Track near Dargo.

The 57-year-old man, who was a Jetstar captain at the time, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and is on trial at the Supreme Court in Melbourne.

Robin Ashlin, a friend of Hill’s for more than 25 years, told the jury on Friday he first met Clay at a camp site at Timbarra in 2019.

Ashlin had gone with his wife to visit another friend, James Francis, and Hill was also there.

He introduced Clay as his friend but “blind Freddy could see the way they looked at each other”, Ashlin said.

Ashlin never mentioned the meeting to Hill’s wife, but she later told him Clay had “been on the scene” for more than 20 years.

The pair had been childhood sweethearts and Ashlin understood there was a pact between Hill and Clay to divorce their respective partners so they could be together.

“Carol divorced her husband, but Russell backed out,” Ashlin told the jury.

He said he was shocked to find out about the affair because it seemed out of character for Hill.

“What is the go with one on the side – one is enough trouble,” Ashlin said.

Francis, who was friends with Hill for a decade, said he met Clay several times as Hill brought her on joint camping trips.

It was his understanding that Hill did not want others to know about the affair.

Both Francis and Ashlin spoke to Hill on March 20 – the day the couple were allegedly killed – through amateur radio.

Hill was “like a pig in s—” and couldn’t have been happier camping in the Wonnangatta Valley, Ashlin said.

Francis also told the jury Hill seemed like his usual self in their last interaction.

The trial continues.

-AAP

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