Australian police renew efforts to find body of British backpacker Peter Falconio

The man convicted of the 2001 murder has refused to say where the body is

Lamiat Sabin
Wednesday 14 July 2021 10:56
Comments
<p>Peter Falconio pictured with girlfriend Joanne Lees</p>

Peter Falconio pictured with girlfriend Joanne Lees

Police in Australia are appealing for information to locate the body of a British backpacker murdered exactly 20 years ago.

Bradley John Murdoch was convicted in 2005 of murdering Peter Falconio, 28, and assaulting his girlfriend Joanne Lees at gunpoint on a remote highway.

The attack happened on Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, about 200 miles north of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.

Murdoch is believed to have hidden Mr Falconio’s body after the murder on 14 July 2001, and it has never been found despite extensive searches.

He is serving a life sentence with a 28-year non-parole period, and he has refused to say where Mr Falconio’s body is.

Northern Territory (NT) Police said in a statement that the missing person’s case remains open.

Murdoch was convicted of the murder and assault on the couple from West Yorkshire

Detective senior sergeant Karl Day said: “Police are urging anyone out there, with any information that may assist Peter’s family in gaining some sort closure, to come forward and contact police.

“We are thinking of Peter’s family and friends on this anniversary and remain hopeful that such a milestone may jolt some information and progress the investigation.”

Ms Lees, from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, had returned to Australia for the first time in 15 years in February 2017 in the hope of finding Mr Falconio’s body.

The then 43-year-old said she wanted to “bring him home” as she returned to the scene of the shooting for an Australian television show.

She said: “It’s because I love Pete so much and I want to bring him home and I need to bring him home.”

Police believe Murdoch put Mr Falconio’s body somewhere between Alice Springs and Broome

Before Mr Falconio was murdered, Murdoch was driving behind the couple down Stuart Highway. He indicated for them to pull over, saying their camper van might have an engine problem.

Mr Falconio went behind the car with Murdoch to investigate, which is when Ms Lees heard a gunshot.

Murdoch then tied Ms Lees with cables and covered her head. She managed to escape while he was distracted, and hid in bushland for five hours. Murdoch hunted her with his dog before she managed to flag down a truck driver.

NT chief minister, Michael Gunner, said the murder was a callous and sickening act of violence.

At the trial in 2005, sentencing judge Justice Brian Martin had said he believed Murdoch had taken Mr Falconio’s body in his car and dumped it somewhere in the vast outback between Alice Springs and Broome, in Western Australia.

He also sentenced Murdoch to six years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting Ms Lees with a gun, with the sentences to be served concurrently. Murdoch will be 74 when eligible for parole in 2032.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in