Pilot arrested over disappearance of missing campers had his 4WD resprayed TWICE

The man arrested over the disappearance of two elderly campers had resprayed his 4WD at least twice over the past seven years. 

Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn, 55, remains under police guard four days after his arrest in remote bushland in Victoria’s east. 

He had been plucked from the bush in the night by heavily armed police a week after police published an image of his distinctive blue 1997 Nissan Patrol. 

A white Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn’s home in 2016

A blue Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn's home in 2019

A blue Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn’s home in 2019

A beige coloured Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn's home in 2021

A beige coloured Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn’s home in 2021 

Jetstar pilot Greg Lynn remains in police custody four days after his arrest

Jetstar pilot Greg Lynn remains in police custody four days after his arrest 

That vehicle had been resprayed to a camp beige colour sometime over the past year as police closed the net on its 20-month long investigation into the disappearance of Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73. 

The secret lovers have not been seen since sneaking away for a trip to Victoria’s remote Wonnangatta Valley on March 20, 2020.   

Special operations group officers took down the Caroline Springs man on Monday afternoon after tracking his movements and flying into remote bushland north of Sale.  

Earlier this month, police released images of a blue four-wheel-drive – believed to be a mid-to-late-1990s model Nissan Patrol – taken by a CCTV camera in the area at the time the pair went missing.  

Witnesses had reported a number of sightings of the vehicle. 

Although police released a detailed photo of the vehicle, it appeared to have its registration plate digitally altered, suggesting they knew exactly who owned the vehicle. 

Google images show Lynn’s then white Nissan Patrol parked outside his Caroline Springs home in 2016. 

By 2019 – the next available image – it can be seen parked in the driveway, but this time it’s blue. 

Fast forward to June this year and the vehicle is again pictured in the driveway in the same beige colour it was upon Lynn’s arrest. 

The mid-1990s model Nissan Patrol (pictured) is now central to the investigation because painstaking video analysis has managed to account for every car exiting the remote valley that weekend - except the blue 4WD

The mid-1990s model Nissan Patrol (pictured) is now central to the investigation because painstaking video analysis has managed to account for every car exiting the remote valley that weekend – except the blue 4WD

Pictured: Russell Hill

Pictured: Carol Clay

Russell Hill (pictured, left) and Carol Clay (right) are believed to have been murdered during a camping trip 

Mr Hill's white Toyota Landcruiser (pictured) was found with minor fire damage at their burnt campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley on March 21

Mr Hill’s white Toyota Landcruiser (pictured) was found with minor fire damage at their burnt campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley on March 21

Lynn was arrested around 5:30pm on Monday, and remains in police custody in Sale awaiting his fate.  

It is understood police likely knew Lynn’s exact location after releasing specific information to the public on his alleged vehicle last week. 

Detectives at the time refused to say whether a CCTV camera atop Mount Hotham had captured the vehicle’s registration plate, but it now appears certain it had.  

Homicide squad detectives no doubt had the 55-year old under heavy surveillance for weeks, if not months.  

Lynn is understood to have driven into the bush after a fight with his flight attendant wife Melanie.

On Sunday afternoon, surveillance footage showed Lynn welcoming a new resident to his Caroline Springs street in Melbourne’s west.

The CCTV video showed the avid outdoorsman in an Akubra-style hat walking towards the neighbour and giving a compliment about his car.

On Thursday, police revealed they are yet to track down the Lynn’s trailer.

Detectives believe the silver-coloured trailer was sold last year between March and July and have issued an appeal to anyone who bought one at that time matching the description to come forward.

The 4WD (pictured in a police sketch) has roof racks, side steps, off-road tyres and a bulbar. The box trailer is 'fairly standard' but has been fitted with 'off-road wheels'

The 4WD (pictured in a police sketch) has roof racks, side steps, off-road tyres and a bulbar. The box trailer is ‘fairly standard’ but has been fitted with ‘off-road wheels’

All white: A white Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn's home in 2016

All white: A white Nissan Patrol parked outside Greg Lynn’s home in 2016

‘If they’ve received one or purchased one and… they don’t absolutely know who they purchased it from… there might be something suss about it – if they could contact Crime Stoppers that would be fantastic,’ Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Thursday.

Commissioner Patton confirmed Lynn was spoken to by police previously before his dramatic arrest.

The Victoria Police boss stressed there was ‘no urgency’ to lay charges against him, noting a person can be held in custody for ‘a reasonable time’ with no set limit under the Crimes Act.

‘We’re not rushing into anything here,’ he said.

‘This is the most complex investigation I’ve ever been briefed on.’

Despite the arrest, Commissioner Patton said the investigation was ‘still reliant’ on members of the public to provide information.

Though he added he was confident the mystery over what happened to the campers would be solved.

Lynn has been stood down from his job with the airline saying it will assist investigators if needed.

A man has been arrested as part of the investigation into missing campers Carol Clay (left) and Russell Hill (right). The pair have not been heard from since March 20, 2020

A man has been arrested as part of the investigation into missing campers Carol Clay (left) and Russell Hill (right). The pair have not been heard from since March 20, 2020

Witnesses have reported seeing a vehicle doing a 20 tp 30 point turn near the Wonnangatta track before turning around. A blue Nissan of interest to the investigation was captured hours later driving near Mount Hotham

Witnesses have reported seeing a vehicle doing a 20 tp 30 point turn near the Wonnangatta track before turning around. A blue Nissan of interest to the investigation was captured hours later driving near Mount Hotham

Detectives had made repeated public appeals for information since the elderly campers went missing 20 months ago. 

Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 and picked up Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser. 

He was last heard from on March 20 when he made a call via HF radio saying he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps. 

The pair have not been seen or heard from since.  

The following day, campers found Mr Hill’s car with minor fire damage at their  completely scorched campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley. 

Detectives believe the pair were attacked between 6pm and 11pm during a random confrontation with another camper, possibly the driver of the 4WD, who then torched their campsite to cover their tracks.  

Witnesses have since come forward with new information that revealed just how difficult – and dangerous – it would have been for the killer to flee the high country on the night the lovers vanished. 

A motorist, believed to be towing a trailer, was seen driving erratically around midnight after reaching a closed gate on a narrow stretch of road north of the campsite. 

Greg Lynn and wife Melanie - who is a flight attendant with Jetstar

Greg Lynn and wife Melanie – who is a flight attendant with Jetstar 

Finding the road unalterably blocked, the driver – who was heading towards Myrtleford – would have needed to have performed a difficult u-turn with a trailer on the narrow road to go back the way the car had come. 

Hours later, the Nissan Patrol was snapped by a roadside security camera 60 km away on the Great Alpine Road at Mount Hotham just after sunrise. 

If so, the driver would have required considerable expertise of the area to navigate the perilous journey between the two locations. 

The drive between the sightings would have involved tricky driving routes on challenging remote tracks that zig-zag through the region. 

Police revealed earlier this month the Nissan was central to the investigation because painstaking video analysis has managed to account for every car exiting the remote valley that weekend – except the blue 4WD.    

‘Throughout our extensive and significant investigation over the last 20 months, we have not been able to eliminate this blue four-wheel drive from our enquiries,’ Inspector Andrew Stamper said in a public alert.

‘We have witness statements that put this blue vehicle and its trailer in the valley at the time Russell and Carol were there, and indeed near the spot that they had set up their camp.’

The 4WD has roof racks, side steps, off-road tyres and a bulbar. The box trailer is ‘fairly standard’ but has been fitted with ‘off-road wheels’.

The pair went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200km north east of Melbourne

The pair went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200km north east of Melbourne

From the earliest stages of the investigation detectives had wondered why the couple set up their campsite away from the river in a less secluded spot (shown above) but Inspector Stamper now believes it's because somebody else was already camping there when they arrived

From the earliest stages of the investigation detectives had wondered why the couple set up their campsite away from the river in a less secluded spot (shown above) but Inspector Stamper now believes it’s because somebody else was already camping there when they arrived

Russell Hill and Carol Clay (pictured) were last heard from on March 20 last year, with Mr Hill's wife unaware he was travelling with another woman

Russell Hill and Carol Clay (pictured) were last heard from on March 20 last year, with Mr Hill’s wife unaware he was travelling with another woman

Mr Hill (above) had recently retired and was an experienced outdoorsman who reportedly knew the remote Alpine region of the Gippsland well

Mr Hill (above) had recently retired and was an experienced outdoorsman who reportedly knew the remote Alpine region of the Gippsland well

MISSING CAMPERS THEORIES

THE BLUE NISSAN PATROL   

Homicide detectives now suspect a person travelling dark blue Nissan Patrol got into an altercation with the couple which turned deadly. Investigators theorise the person may have driven their bodies away in a trailer. 

SHOT BY HUNTERS 

Locals believe the pair may have been shot and killed after Mr Hill’s drone unwittingly caught illegal hunters in the act. Large numbers of deer carcasses were found near the burnt out campsite.

MURDERER STALKING THE AREA

A friend of Mr Hill said hunters in the area has seen a ‘sinister’ figure lurking near their campfire.

THE ‘BUTTON MAN’

An ‘oddball loner’ expert bushman known as the ‘button man’ for his habit of making buttons out of deer antlers became a person of interest after the disappearance, but there is no evidence he is linked to the disappearance.

KILLED BY UNKNOWN ATTACKERS

Police acknowledge that some other unknown attackers could have set upon the campers.

 

 

 

 

 

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