Police analyse blood in hunt for British tourist

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The Independent Online

Australian police searching for the missing British tourist Peter Falconio are analysing blood samples found on an isolated farm in the Outback.

A farmer contacted police after he found what he believed was a dark patch of blood "the size of a dinner plate" on his property. The blood patch was found on the unnamed farmer's land at Renner Springs, about 400 miles north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

A £90,000 reward was offered by the Northern Territory government for information leading to the whereabouts of Mr Falconio, 28, who has not been seen since he and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, were abducted near Barrow Creek, 175 miles north of Alice Springs, on 14 July.

Mr Falconio, from Hepworth, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is feared to have been shot when the couple were ambushed. Ms Lees, from Almondbury, near Huddersfield, was bound and gagged by the attacker, but escaped into the bush. She is now working in a Sydney bookstore and awaiting news of Mr Falconio.

Last week Northern Territory police scaled down the hunt for Mr Falconio, cutting the number of officers working on the case from 35 to 14. A police spokeswoman said the investigation task force would examine existing information.

Police hunting for Mr Falconio have received about 800 calls. They have yet to name a prime suspect although they have eliminated several suspects from their inquiries.

Mr Falconio's disappearance has sparked one of Australia's biggest manhunts, involving police in planes and helicopters, roadblocks and Aboriginal trackers.