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‘Heartbroken’ families respond to High Country murder verdict

Greg Lynn has been found guilty of murdering Carol Clay, but not of Russell Hill.

Greg Lynn has been found guilty of murdering Carol Clay, but not of Russell Hill.

The “relieved and devastated” families of Russell Hill and Carol Clay have thanked police and prosecutors after the bombshell split murder verdict in the case.

A jury on Tuesday found former Jetstar pilot Greg Lynn guilty of the murder of Clay but not her secret lover Hill.

The 57-year-old pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and a weeks-long trial ensued at the Supreme Court in Melbourne over the pair, who disappeared while camping in 2020.

Twelve jurors deliberated for seven days before returning to court on Tuesday with the split verdict.

Hill and Clay were last seen in the Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s High Country, where they had been camping together on March 20, 2020.

Hill, 74, was married and he and Clay were having a secret affair when they disappeared.

He, 73-year-old Clay and Lynn were the only people who stayed at Bucks Camp that night.

Lynn claimed their deaths were accidental, but admitted burning the crime scene and destroying their bodies.

He said he had been out deer hunting when he returned to threats from Hill that he had drone footage of Lynn hunting too close to the campsite and he would hand the footage to police.

Later that night, he said Hill took a shotgun and ammunition from Lynn’s car. Lynn claimed he went to get his gun from Hill, who fired off warning shots before turning the gun on Lynn.

Lynn said he and Hill struggled over the gun. Another shot went off and hit the side of Hill’s ute mirror, ricocheting off and into Clay’s head.

Shot fragments found later proved that Clay died in a shooting.

greg lynn

Lynn admitted repainting his 4WD to make it harder to link to the High Country deaths. Photo: Victoria Police

The former pilot claimed Hill charged at him with a knife, starting another struggle. Lynn said he was trying to defend himself when the knife went into Hill’s chest.

The jury heard no evidence about how Hill died.

Lynn admitted burning the couple’s campsite, putting their bodies in a trailer and driving to the Union Spur Track where he unloaded the bodies and covered them with sticks. He returned twice, including in November 2020 when he set fire to the couple’s remains.

He was arrested a year later. At that time, he told his story to police and led investigators to the bodies, which had broken down into 2100 bone fragments.

Lynn maintained he was innocent of murder and admitted to the jury his actions in covering up the crime, including repainting his 4WD used to dispose of the bodies, were “despicable”.

He had offered to plead guilty to destruction of evidence charges before the trial began.

But the prosecution said Lynn’s story was a work of fiction and his conduct after the killings proved beyond a reasonable doubt he intended to murder the couple.

Twelve jurors began deciding on their two verdicts on June 17, returning to the court after seven days of deliberations.

Asked for a verdict on Hill’s murder, the jury’s foreperson told the court on Tuesday “not guilty”. Asked about the murder of Clay, the foreperson replied “guilty”.

In handing down a split verdict, the jurors decided they did not believe Lynn’s claim that Clay’s death was accidental.

Lynn, wearing a suit and blue jumper, remained silent and still as the verdicts were read aloud, raising his eyebrows after learning his fate.

Lynn waved to his son Geordie, who was seated in front of him inside the court room, after the jury left the court.

He spoke to his lawyers before he was escorted out, flanked by custody officers, and smiled as the prison van took him away.

Lynn, who will be sentenced at a later date, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. He will return to court on July 19 for a mention.

Victoria Police later released a statement on behalf of Hill and Clay’s families. They said they were “both relieved and devastated” at Tuesday’s verdict.

“Our families were always aware that the prosecutor had an enormous burden of proof, as there were no eyewitnesses. The accused was the only person who saw and experienced what happened. He was also the only person who emerged alive,” it said.

They said they were heartbroken and asked for privacy as they absorbed Tuesday’s verdicts.

Outside court, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Martin O’Brien praised the “determination and perseverance” of missing persons detectives in bringing Lynn to justice.

He said the courage of Hill and Clay’s families had been “nothing short of extraordinary”.

-with AAP

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