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Greg Lynn verdict: Jury reaches a stunning decision in murder trial over deaths of missing campers Carol Clay and Russell Hill

Ex-Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn has been found guilty of the murder of Carol Clay, but not guilty of the murder of Russell Hill. 

The mixed verdict was handed down in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday afternoon.  

The jury has been deliberating over the murder charges against Lynn since June 14. 

The verdict came a day after the jury returned to the court to ask Justice Michael Croucher if both of their verdicts needed to be the same. 

The jury had heard the prosecution could deliver no motive as to how they alleged Lynn had allegedly murdered Mr Hill.  

The former Jetstar pilot had pleaded not guilty to the murders of campers Mr Hill, 74, and Ms Clay, 73, in the Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region, on March 20, 2020.

The jury of 12 unanimously found Lynn murdered Ms Clay in cold blood before attempting to cover his tracks by burning and destroying the evidence. 

Sobs could be heard across the courtroom as the verdicts were delivered. 

The verdict brings to an end one of Australia’s most intriguing murder mysteries in recent times. 

Greg Lynn has been found guilty of murdering Carol Clay 

Jury found Lynn murdered Carol Clay, nut not Russell Hill

Jury found Lynn murdered Carol Clay, nut not Russell Hill 

Wearing a black shirt and blue shirt, Lynn showed little emotion as the verdicts were delivered.

His son Geordie and one of Mr Hill’s daughters Colleen were seated in the body of the court. 

Outside court, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Martin O’Brien said the force’s thoughts were with the Hill and Clay families. 

‘We acknowledge how difficult these past four years have been for them. Their courage and resilience in the face of their grief, amidst enormous public attention, has been nothing short of extraordinary. We will continue to support them in every way possible following this decision,’ he said. 

Mr O’Brien paid tribute to its Missing Persons Squad for its efforts in the case. 

‘We would also like to acknowledge the determination and perseverance of Missing Persons Squad detectives over the course of this exhaustive and complex investigation, as well as the significant support received from a number of specialist areas and local police from right across Victoria Police,’ he said. 

The disgraced pilot had banked on convincing the jury both campers had died as a result of a tragic accident. 

He was aided in his task by a series of police blunders, which saw the entirety of Lynn’s epic four-plus day record of interview thrown out before the trial. 

It joined the scrap heap with a load of other evidence deemed inadmissible, including a search of Lynn’s house that turned-up a treasure trove of guns and knives. 

Lynn had entered the witness box to tell the jury in his own words how the campers died.

While Lynn always denied murdering the couple, the jury heard he freely admitted to cleaning up the alleged crime scene and destroying the evidence. 

‘It was despicable,’ Lynn conceded. 

‘All I can say to the families is that I am very sorry for all of your suffering that I’ve caused … yes I should be punished for it. For what I did.’

The jury heard Lynn had offered to plead guilty to the destruction of evidence before going on trial, but it had been rejected by the prosecution. 

‘I am innocent of murder,’ he said. ‘I am innocent (of manslaughter too). I haven’t killed anyone.’ 

Greg Lynn's son Geordie runs the media gauntlet outside the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday

Greg Lynn’s son Geordie runs the media gauntlet outside the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday 

Greg Lynn and his wife Melanie, who attended court every day of his trial

Greg Lynn and his wife Melanie, who attended court every day of his trial 

Dressed neatly in a suit and dark-rimmed spectacles, the former pilot spoke in a cool and calm manner as he took the jury through the bloody details of what police alleged was cold blooded murder. 

The jury heard Lynn claimed the couple died after Mr Hill stole his shotgun and the pair engaged in a deadly struggle for control.  

‘I don’t know if he intended to shoot me or not, probably not,’ Lynn told the jury. ‘I think he was just trying to keep the shotgun for himself and scare me off.’

The jury heard Lynn had been sitting near his campfire by the river when he saw Mr Hill take his shotgun and load the magazine. 

The doors of Lynn’s Nissan Patrol had been left wide open to ‘liberate all the music’ from his car stereo, which in the pilot’s own words was done in a ‘childish effort’ to annoy Mr Hill after a previous run-in with him. 

Lynn created a sketch of the scene to help jurors work out how he claimed Mr Hill gained access to his Nissan Patrol to steal his shotgun. 

Lynn's blood was found splattered inside the canopy of Mr Hill's vehicle (pictured)

Lynn’s blood was found splattered inside the canopy of Mr Hill’s vehicle (pictured) 

The image showed a depiction of Lynn’s 4WD with all of its doors open, allowing Mr Hill to take Lynn’s shotgun from the rear and ammunition clip from the front. 

Lynn claimed Mr Hill accidentally shot Ms Clay through the head as he attempted to wrestle the shotgun away from him. 

Pressed upon the bullbar of Mr Hill’s Landcruiser, Lynn claimed Mr Hill pulled the trigger, blasting off the side mirror and hitting Ms Clay directly in the head. 

Mr Hill died moments later after falling on his own knife during another struggle, Lynn claimed. 

Standing before the jury, and about 100 other members of the public who crammed into the courtroom, Lynn painted himself as a caring and respectful airline captain who would go to the effort to help cleaning crews tidy his aircraft after landing. 

Asked about a pair of Jetstar-branded gloves he owned, Lynn claimed he would often keep them after helping out.

‘After duty at work when flying the cabin crew have to clean the plane. It’s not a thorough clean, they just go through and pick-up papers, tidy up the seatbelts and rearrange all of the paperwork in the back of the seat pockets,’ he said. 

‘Most of the pilots just take off and leave the cabin crew to do that, but I always grab some gloves, go through and help them clean up.’ 

The jury heard Lynn had placed a laser sight on the shotgun which killed Carol Clay to ensure he could focus on the heart and lungs of the deer he enjoyed stalking.

The shotgun used to murder Carol Clay

The shotgun used to murder Carol Clay 

Lynn suggested had he wanted to kill Ms Clay, he would not have blasted off the side mirror of Mr Hill’s Landcruiser in the process. 

‘Well the whole point of having a laser sighting on the shotgun … is so that you can put the dot of the laser on the target and you are certain that the round will hit that target,’ Lynn said. 

‘So the slug went through the mirror, if I had done what the police have said I’ve done … if someone had shot Carol Clay with the laser sight on, the laser would have illuminated on the mirror not on Carol Clay.’ 

Lynn described in gruesome detail the bloody aftermath of the alleged crime scene, which he has admitted to going to great lengths to destroy and clean. 

‘The scene was horrendous,’ Lynn said. 

‘There was blood splatter on the hitching rails and the tray base of the Toyota Landcruiser. There was some on the inside of the canopy. 

‘I wiped all of that off … the solar panels … they had blood and other material on them and over the camp furniture.

‘Some of those pieces were covered in a lot of tissue and blood. There was a very large pool of blood on the ground in between the Landcruiser and the tent where Carol Clay was.’

Greg Lynn was pictured changing the colour of his 4WD

Greg Lynn was pictured changing the colour of his 4WD 

Lynn was cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Daniel Porceddu, who told the jury to dismiss any ideas the campers died by accident. 

‘You’ve heard the accused gave a version of events in his interview and in the witness box last week. For reasons I’ll go into in due course, the prosecution says that that account in completely fanciful,’ he said.

‘You can comfortably reject it as being an elaborate fiction.’

Mr Porceddu ran the jury through all of the evidence they have been presented over the past month.

‘He tells you Mr Hill and Ms Clay both died accidentally in separately instantaneous, or near instantaneous, fatal incidents both brought about by the conduct of Mr Hill,’ Mr Porceddu said.

‘The accused’s story is indeed a series of very unfortunate events. Like the book series of that name, it is also a complete fiction.’

Mr Porceddu claimed Lynn had made further errors in his account to police about the alleged confrontation with Mr Hill.

‘There are a number of reasons the story that the story is completely implausible,’ he said.

Mr Porceddu said Lynn had made a mistake in his account of the supposed struggle with Mr Hill by not taking into account the rope tied from the bullbar of his Landcruiser to the toilet.

The jury heard the struggling men would have become hopelessly entangled in the rope had Lynn’s version of events been true.

‘He knows he’s sunk because he knows that he and Mr Hill would have become tangled up in the guy rope,’ Mr Porceddu said.

Detective Brett Florence led the charge to convict Greg Lynn of the alleged murders

Detective Brett Florence led the charge to convict Greg Lynn of the alleged murders 

Mr Porceddu claimed Lynn came up with his story in the 18-months it took police to arrest him.

‘The so-called struggle for the gun is the whole linchpin in the accused’s story. Once that falls like a house of cards everything else tumbles with it,’ he said.

‘You don’t believe a word of it. We urge you to see the accused’s account for what it is – a carefully constructed fiction developed over one year, eight months. During that time the accused was able to gain through the media an understanding of the evidence emerging.

‘It was an account that was clearly carefully rehearsed so much so that he can repeat it almost word-for-word over two separate days of a police interview. It is an account crafted in such a way to shift the blame to Mr Hill.’

The jury heard Lynn’s story about Mr Hill stealing his gun from his car made no sense.

‘If you’re a person concerned about firearm safety, you’ve snuck up to the accused’s campsite to confiscate his gun, and you’re trying to do that without him knowing, why are you loading it when all you’re looking to do is take it back to your campsite?’ the prosecutor said.

Mr Porceddu said it was also unreasonable to think Mr Hill would have taken the shotgun and left Lynn’s rifle in the car.

‘If you’re going to confiscate the gun of a person you’ve not been on the best of terms with, who you’ve allegedly been provocative towards and you’re doing it to eventually report him to the police, don’t you think you’d make he wasn’t left with another gun?’ he said.

The jury heard police allege Lynn likely murdered Mr Hill after some kind of dispute before eliminating Ms Clay because she was the only witness.

‘Had she been allowed to live, Ms Clay would have been in a position to identify the accused,’ Mr Porceddu said.

‘While it is not known how Mr Hill was killed because the accused deliberately burnt the body of Mr Hill and obliterated any forensic evidence … the evidence establishes Ms Clay was killed by a gunshot to the head.’

The jury agreed on Ms Clay, but could not be convinced beyond reasonable doubt on Mr Hill. 

Lynn will return to court at a date to be fixed for a pre-sentence hearing. 

Victoria Police statement on verdict  

Russell Hill and Carol Clay’s families are both relieved and devastated at the verdicts in the trial of Gregory Lynn for the murder of Russell Hill and Carol Clay, delivered today.

The jury have only decided murder in one case, that of Carol Clay.

The verdict of guilty was the only charge. The possibility of a verdict of ‘manslaughter’ was ruled out. We thank the jury for their verdict of guilty in the murder of Carol Clay. It was an extremely difficult task given that the accused destroyed so much evidence.

The verdict of not guilty in relation to the murder Russell Hill is devastating. There was not enough evidence to be sure of how he died.

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.

We thank the crown prosecutors wholeheartedly for their diligent effort in presenting the pretrial and the trial. They had an enormous job putting a case together with limited evidence. They fought hard to keep all their evidence allowed in court, so the jury could make an informed decision, but this was not the case.

We also thank the Victoria Police Missing Persons Squad, particularly Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper and Sergeant Brett Florence for their tireless investigative work over four and a half years. They have gone above and beyond in their duties to solve this case and we sincerely thank them for their time, effort, persistence, care and professionalism to bring us answers.

For the wider Victoria Police involvement, thank you, we appreciated the efforts of you all and are extremely grateful for your expertise, your hard work and support. Plus, we thank all the wonderful volunteers who spent weeks searching for our loved ones.

Finally, Carol Clay and Russell Hill’s families would like to thank all our friends and family who have given their support throughout this harrowing experience, over the last four years.

We are heartbroken at the loss of our loved ones. It will take time to absorb the verdicts, put this behind us and set about healing and getting on with our lives. Right now, we ask you to respect our privacy while we do this.

On behalf of both,

The Hill Family and the Clay Family