Moment police officer thought he had found missing campers

A police officer sent to investigate the disappearance of two elderly campers has revealed in court the heartbreaking moment he thought he had found them alive.

Former Jetstar pilot Greg Lynn, 57, has been cleared in the Supreme Court of Victoria of murdering secret lovers Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, in the Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region, in March 2020.

On Tuesday, Sergeant Matt Turner told the jury he was dispatched to the area on March 28 after being told Mr Hill’s vehicle and the burnt campsite were there.

Images obtained by police during the initial search for the missing campers

A witness has claimed that Greg Lynn was camping in the circled area.  Mr Hill's vehicle was found approximately 30 meters from the river shown

A witness has claimed that Greg Lynn was camping in the circled area. Mr Hill’s vehicle was found approximately 30 meters from the river shown

That afternoon, the crime scene officer and his partner drove into the woods and onto the Wonnangatta Track, where the couple were last seen alive.

‘As we entered the flat part of the valley we saw two people who were probably in their 60s and we thought, ‘We’ve already solved it. These are the missing people,” he told the jury.

But the police officer’s hopes were quickly dashed when he stopped to talk to the hikers.

“It wasn’t the people who were missing, so we continued until we found the campsite,” Sergeant Turner said.

When Sergeant Turner arrived on the scene, he took a series of photographs of the campsite, which police at the time believed were the result of an accident.

The Wonnangatta Valley, in the Alpine region of Victoria, where Russell Hill and Carol Clay are said to have been murdered

The Wonnangatta Valley, in the Alpine region of Victoria, where Russell Hill and Carol Clay are said to have been murdered

Carol Clay was allegedly shot by Lynn with a shotgun before Mr Hill was impaled on a knife during a fight with the former pilot

Carol Clay was allegedly shot by Lynn with a shotgun before Mr Hill was impaled on a knife during a fight with the former pilot

Ghostly footage showed the inside of Mr Hill’s beloved Landcruiser, his wallet open and strewn on the driver’s side footwell.

In the passenger seat, Ms. Clay’s handbag and other personal items were left untouched, but her green-colored bag was also discarded in the footwell.

When the officer opened Ms. Clay’s bag, he found her driver’s license and Medicare card neatly placed in clear sleeves inside.

Her smiling driver’s license photo was shown to the jury, which was reduced to 14 members on Tuesday after one member fell ill and had to be dismissed.

Other images showed the burned remains of the campers’ tent, which contained a destroyed solar panel, a gas stove, gas bottles, buckets and an electronic tablet.

Next to the fire-damaged 4WD were several empty cans of bourbon and Coke.

About 30 meters from the crime scene, Sergeant Turner captured a series of images of the idyllic river next to where the alleged killer was believed to have set up his own camp.

When the police officers finished capturing the scene on camera, Sergeant Turner said he felt obliged to return the secret hidden key he had used to enter Mr Hill’s vehicle to where he left it. had found.

The jury had previously heard that police were able to enter Mr Hill’s locked car after learning the location of the key from his wife, who reported her husband missing when he could not make contact on his long-distance radio.

Greg Lynn has pleaded not guilty to the murders, claiming the deaths were both a

Greg Lynn has pleaded not guilty to the murders, claiming the deaths were both a “tragic accident.”

The burnt remains of Mr Hill's Esky and a battery

The burnt remains of Mr Hill’s Esky and a battery

A camper heard Lynn trying to cross this part of the river before having to make a U-turn because the road was closed.  Police allege he had the campers' bodies in a trailer at the time

A camper heard Lynn trying to cross this part of the river before having to make a U-turn because the road was closed. Police allege he had the campers’ bodies in a trailer at the time

β€œ(The key) was left with the vehicle in case they came back and needed the vehicle to leave,” Sergeant Turner said.

“If they got lost in the bush and came back to the vehicle, we didn’t want to take the spare key and leave them stranded without a vehicle.”

The court heard the officers placed conspicuous police tape in a cross shape across the back of Mr Hill’s car before leaving.

β€œI left the scene just after 7 p.m. β€œI put some police tape over the back of the vehicle so that when they got back to the vehicle they would know the police had been there,” Sergeant Turner said.

He also hoped the tape would reassure campers that their wallets had not been stolen.

β€œIf they thought their wallet had been stolen, they knew the police had been there and they could call the police,” the officer said.

Detectives allege Lynn murdered the elderly campers before placing their bodies in his caravan and dumping them in the bush at another location.

On Wednesday, the court heard Lynn claimed Hill and Mrs Clay had died in a ‘tragic accident’.

His barrister Dermot Dann, KC, told the jury that Mr Hill stole Lynn’s shotgun after he became enraged because Lynn was playing loud music on the night he was murdered.

β€œHe went to Mr. Hill to try to get the gun back β€” to take control of the gun,” Mr. Dann said.

The jury heard that when Lynn tried to wrestle the firearm away from Mr Hill, the gun went off and Ms Clay was hit in the head.

‘There was a struggle over the knife. Mr. Lynn is trying to defend himself – they are engaged in this struggle – and as part of that struggle the two men fall to the ground and the knife goes through Mr. Hill’s chest,” Mr. Dann said.

The court heard that Hill and Lynn had argued earlier in the day about Lynn hunting deer so close to other campers.

The jury has heard that Lynn admitted covering up the campers’ deaths because he feared being accused of murder.

The process continues.