Greg Lynn trial: cause of campers’ deaths unable to be determined due to ‘obliterated’ remains, court told

<span>Russell Hill and Carol Clay were allegedly murdered at a remote camping site in Victoria’s alpine region in March 2020.</span><span>Photograph: Victoria Police</span>
Russell Hill and Carol Clay were allegedly murdered at a remote camping site in Victoria’s alpine region in March 2020.Photograph: Victoria Police

The cause of death for Russell Hill and Carol Clay was unable to be determined as their remains were found “obliterated” in Victoria’s alpine region, a forensic pathologist has told a double murder trial.

Gregory Stuart Lynn, 57, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Hill and Clay at a remote camping site in the Wonnangatta Valley in March 2020. The supreme court trial entered its third week on Monday.

Dr Melanie Archer, a forensic pathologist and entomologist, told the court that more than 2,000 skeletal fragments from the deceased were recovered from Union Spur track. The court previously heard that was where Lynn dumped the bodies and later returned and burned the remains.

Archer examined insect remnants from the site and bone fragments in a mortuary in December 2021.

Archer, who works at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, said her examination was able to ascertain the remains were Clay and Hill due to DNA analysis from material collected from the Union Spur site and a second location.

She said she was unable to determine the cause of death due to the evidence being “obliterated” and the fragmentation of the remains.


“Sometimes even when remains are fragmented, we may find pieces that bear the hallmarks of trauma, but in this case that was not possible,” she told the court.

“Whatever has caused their death has been masked by the changes … by this burning and fragmentation.”

Archer said her examination found evidence that there was some level of decomposition before the remains were burned, due to the presence of blow fly puparium – the hardened outer shell formed as the insect transitions from a maggot. But she was unable to determine how long the bodies had decomposed for before the burning.

Under questioning by the defence’s lawyer, Dermot Dann KC, Archer said Lynn’s timeline of the deaths that he provided to the police – that they occurred in March 2020 and that he returned to burn the bodies in November 2020 – was consistent with the available evidence.

Under re-examination by crown prosecutor Kathryn Hamill, Archer said the timeline was “very plausible” based on her examination that found blow flies had completed their life cycle on the remains.

Related: Greg Lynn trial: does the evidence point to murder or a ‘tragic accident’?

The prosecution has alleged Lynn, a former Jetstar pilot, killed Clay, 73, and Hill, 74, 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.

Dann previously told the court that the deaths were the result of a tragic accident, and that his client had “made a series of terrible choices” to cover them up. Lynn’s account is that Clay was shot in the head after he and Hill struggled over control of the former pilot’s shotgun following a dispute.

Lynn told police that Hill then came at him with a knife, screaming “she’s dead” before another struggle that saw the knife go through the chest of Hill while they were on the ground.

Last week, the court heard Hill told his family he was no longer seeing Clay after being given an ultimatum in 2006 by a neighbour to tell his wife about the affair he was having. Hill’s wife of more than 50 years, Robyn Hill, said she told police he was missing on 25 March, after he failed to tune in to any other radio meetings.

Hill tuned in to high frequency radio almost every night at 6pm to speak with other radio enthusiasts and friends, the court previously heard.

The jury last week was also shown photos of a crime scene where Lynn burned the bodies. Dann said Lynn had told police he set the bodies alight with a small amount of kerosene.

The trial continues on Tuesday.