Falconio's girlfriend tells of regrets

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The Independent Online

Joanne Lees, the backpacker whose boyfriend Peter Falconio was shot dead in the Australian outback, has spoken for the first time of her regrets over an affair she conducted in the months leading up to his murder.

Ms Lees, 33, also revealed that the man convicted of killing him, drug dealer Bradley Murdoch, never enters her thoughts.

She and Mr Falconio were touring Australia in a campervan in 2001 when Murdoch, a drug dealer, signalled them to pull over at night. He was jailed for murder last year, but during the trial it emerged she had a fling with a Briton, Nick Reilly, meeting him without the knowledge of her boyfriend.

In her first interview since the trial she said she had made a mistake but added that it strengthened her relationship with her partner. "I did love Pete with all my heart and when that happened I did overstep the boundaries of friendship, but it made me love Pete even more and value what we did have," she said.

Ms Lees, who has written a book about her life, No Turning Back, for a reported £250,000, could not say whether she would have ever confessed the fling had Mr Falconio still been alive.

"That was one thing I struggled with, I don't know the answer. All I wish was that Pete was still here and I could... well, I wish he was still here more than anything," she said.

Ms Lees said she had no idea what had motivated Murdoch and has cleared him from her mind.

"I don't give him a thought. I don't want to," she said in an interview with The Times. "He consumed a lot of my life before he was arrested and then the committal and the trial and once that unanimous verdict was read and he was sentences to 28 years, I don't give him a thought."